ESFA announce 16-18 funding uplift for 'crucial' subjects

The government has today announced a further funding increase for 16 to 18 year-old students as part of the £400 million extra revealed in August, but only for specific subjects, such as engineering.

In addition to the per student unweighted base rate rising 4.7 per cent from £4,000 to £4,188, the funding for some courses will rise by up to a further 10 per cent through changes to the ‘programme cost weightings’ (PCW) .

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has today also introduced a £400 ‘High Value Courses Premium’ (HVCP), in an attempt to “support the sector to grow the number of students studying selected substantial level 3 study programmes”.

Only substantial provision in the sectors of engineering, manufacturing technologies, transport operations and maintenance, building and construction, ICT for practitioners would be eligible for the HVCP.

The PCW are funding uplifts introduced in 2013 and assigned to student study programmes and based on the main course (known as the ‘core aim).

These uplifts, along with the HVCP, are then used as part of the formula to calculate annual allocations based on historical delivery.

The PCW for students studying courses in the sectors of transportation operations and maintenance, building and construction and hospitality and catering will increase 8.3 per cent (PWC medium 1.2 to high 1.3).

The PcW for students studying courses in the sectors engineering and manufacturing technologies will increase 7.7 per cent (PCW high 1.3 to very high 1.4).

And the PWC when there are at least two science A-levels or for science study programmes will increase 10 per cent from (PCW base 1 to low 1.1).

This latest announcement provides the detail following a Treasury statement in August. At the time the government said:  “Colleges and school sixth forms will also get £120 million to help deliver expensive but crucial subjects such as engineering which lead to higher wages and, ultimately, a more productive economy.”

The ESFA also said “the government is now reviewing PCWs” for T-levels and “we are providing the details now to give providers time to plan”.

“We will update the funding rates and formula guidance for 2020 to 2021 before March 2020,” it added.

James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said: “When the £120 million increase for ‘expensive but crucial subjects’ was announced ahead of September’s spending round, we were concerned that only the minority of students that pursue a technical course would be likely to benefit.

“Since then, we have been making the case for A-levels and Applied General Qualifications that meet the high cost/high value criteria to be eligible for this funding, so we are delighted by today’s announcement.

“Although we remain convinced that the optimum way to increase investment in sixth form education is by raising the national funding rate to the required level – at least £4,760 per student – ensuring that targeted interventions like this benefit students pursuing a mainstream sixth form education is the next best policy.”

The government already has an “advanced maths premium”, which was announced in the 2017 autumn budget and is worth £600 for every additional student studying an ‘advanced maths’ qualification, for each year of their course.