Setting aside £560m until April 2019 for restructuring and mergers is a bold move at a time when many will question whether it could be better spent on frontline provision.

Slashed budgets for non-apprenticeship courses have caused huge distress and anger, which came to a head recently with protests over English for Speakers of Other Languages cuts.

And the announcement coming in the same month as disappointment over 16-18 growth requests won’t go unnoticed.

But the long game here is to stabilise colleges’ financial footing which for many is looking ropey at best — as this edition’s investigation into the dramatic increase in financial notices of concern has exposed.

And the Treasury is right to keep a close hold on the purse strings, making sure the money is spent as intended.

However, mergers and restructures can prove expensive and repeat few immediate rewards.

So the Government may not get its ‘loan’ back, but if it serves to incentivise the college leadership team to implement difficult but necessary decisions then so be it.


Nick Linford is editor of FE Week

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