Funding cut in pipeline for full-time 18-year-olds as Spending Review bites

The Education Funding Agency has announced plans to save £150m by paying 17.5 per cent less for the full-time education of 18-year-olds in comparison with 16 and 17-year-olds.

The current, unweighted, funding rate for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds is £4,000. The new rate for 16 and 17-year-olds is expected to be announced in March, but at the current rate 18-year-olds would be funded at £3,300.

The agency said the Spending Review for 2015-16 meant that savings were required from the 16 to 19 participation budget that year.

It said the cut would come into force for 2014/15, by which time, it argued, most 18-year-olds would not need “as much non-qualification provision within their study programmes” because they will have already benefited from two years of post-16 education.

But it is estimated that the move would affect 100,000 18-year-olds in colleges, plus those in school sixth forms and studying foundation course in universities.

It has angered Association of Colleges chief executive Martin Doel, who has raised the issue with Education Minister David Laws and said: “By definition these are the students who need extra help, not less.”

Nevertheless, it would, it is believed, save the agency — and the Department for Education (DfE) — around £150m.

A letter from the agency outlining the cut said: “Because we are operating within a fixed budget, we will confirm the national funding rate per student for 2014/15, and the flat rates for disadvantaged students without GCSE Grade C or above in English or maths in March, when we know the total student numbers we need to fund in 2014/15. In order to realise the required savings for 2015-16, it is necessary to make a start in 2014/15.

“Ministers have decided to make the savings required in 2014/15 by reducing the participation requirements for full-time 18-year-olds, as defined by their age at the start of the academic year.

“Most 18-year-olds will already have benefited from two years of post-16 education and will not therefore need as much non-qualification provision within their study programmes as 16 and 17-year-olds.

“Fewer than one in five of 16 to 18-year-olds funded by the agency are aged 18 at the start of the academic year, although clearly this will vary by institution.

“The funding rate for full-time 18-year-old students in 2014/15 will be 17.5 per cent below the rate for full-time 16 and 17-year-olds. This will apply to all elements of the formula except the flat rates for disadvantaged students without GCSE grade C or above in English or maths, recognising the importance of English and maths for disadvantaged 18-year-olds.

“Students with a learning difficulty assessment or a statement of special educational needs will not be affected by this change.”

However, Mr Doel said 16 to 18-year-olds were already funded at a rate 22 per cent lower than that for schoolchildren, aged five to 15.

“As a result of the government’s decision to protect the level of funding for the education of five to 15-year-olds, it is England’s 16 to 18-year-olds who continue to lose out despite their education already being funded at a rate lower than pre-16 education,” he said.

“The latest announcement from the DfE means that 18-year-olds will be funded at an even lower rate.

“Young people who have struggled to reach the expected level by the age of 18, and therefore need to stay in education a year longer, will see their funding cut.

“By definition these are the students who need extra help, not less. I have already raised my concerns personally with Education Minister David Laws and will continue to do so.”

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  1. Well, we knew Students recorded in the 450-539 band in 2013/14 will attract part-time funding in allocations for 2015/16 but there was some hope that the 2014/15 review indicated in the June guidance wouldn’t bring it down – especially for a a specific aged cohort. With all the push (and funding) for 16 and 17 year olds, including the Youth Contract, you would think they would have maintained the funding for progression purposes so the young people have opportunities for further learning at and after 18, particularly if the job creation has yet to take off. Where else will they go?

  2. How does this work with raising the age of participation, where young people are expected to stay in education to 18! On one hand the government are saying you have to be in formal training till 18 but if your older in your school year or you don’t get your math and English and need to re-take, resulting in completion at 19. Those that retake need the support and those that fall into the school year as a result of their birthday will be effected due to the system. Young people are our future, the government have already made university education so expensive that poorer children can’t progress and now ther are messing up further education…. Absolutely diabolical!

  3. At the moment this primarily affects students who needed to retake level 2 qualifications so are likely to be on 3 year programs at college to get them to a level3 vocational qualification. But when the government’s changes to A levels come in it will be harder for students to change mid year and more of these students will find themselves needing an extra year to complete studies.
    The idea that 18year olds need less “non-qualification” provision just isn’t true. On the whole they are students who have already shown their capacity to fail or not make the best choices they need more support to keep on track and help in making future decisions. They need more tutorial etc support not less!

  4. “Students with a learning difficulty assessment or a statement of special educational needs will not be affected by this change.”
    Really? I don’t think so…… I currently work as a support tutor within a college & my colleagues and I have just been informed our jobs will no longer exist in the 14/15 academic year. Similar posts in other colleges are also disappearing or staff are being asked to apply for a dwindling number of positions. Support for students who have learning difficulties will be drastically reduced in the next academic year in our colleges. Long term foresight and support for students who need it will no longer be available.