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There will be a debate in Westminster Hall on Funding for further education between 2.00 and 3.30 pm on 4 November 2020. The debate has been initiated by Gill Furniss MP.

The further education (FE) sector is large and diverse with a wide range of providers and around 1.7 million students. Financially the sector has been through a prolonged period of funding cuts which has led to reductions in provision and falling learner numbers.

The UK Government has allocated an extra £300 million for further education colleges and sixth forms for 2020–21 – this will lead to a real-terms increase in spending per learner of over 4% but will still leave spending per student over 7% below its level in 2010–11 in colleges and over 20% below in sixth forms.

A 2020 report by the National Audit Office concluded that “overall the financial health of the college sector remains fragile”.

The Covid pandemic has impacted on the FE sector in a number of ways, including: the change to providing online learning and the cost of supplying laptops to disadvantaged students, and provision for the increased number of students as a result of higher than expected examination results in the summer and increased demand among adults for re-training. 

In June 2020 the Association of Colleges called for an extra £3.6 billion to upskill the 764,000 people most at risk economically post-Covid 19.

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