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Adults in further education: A policy overview

Finlay, Ian (2009) Adults in further education: A policy overview. [Report]

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Abstract

Policy on FE is aimed at tackling social exclusion and contributing to economic efficiency. Several measures have contributed to increasing both participation and achievements of adults yet the needs of many of the most disadvantaged adults remain unmet. Since further education colleges are key institutions in the delivery of initiatives such as Skills for Life and Train to Gain, the impact of these initiatives has a major impact on the services they provide for adults. FE colleges are concerned about the impact of the contestability agenda on this provision. Many FE colleges are also concerned about the effects of reductions in funding for provision that is not clearly employment related, and also the restrictions on funding for ESOL. The main challenge faced by FE colleges is getting the balance between individual, State and employer funding for courses. This is a difficult message to get over to those who can afford to pay but who have benefited from free or heavily subsidised provision. The state has a responsibility to ensure that those who can least afford to pay have their education funded. It also has a responsibility to ensure that institutions with wider social remits can compete fairly with those with commercial agenda who can 'cherry pick' low-cost, high return activities.