MPs attack Government over adult education cuts

CONTROVERSIAL Government plans to cut funding for adult education have been described as “out of touch” by Mexborough and Edlington MPs.

Labour leader Ed Miliband and Don Valley MP Caroline Flint have hit out at proposals to stop part-funding further education courses including A-levels and apprenticeships.

Under the proposals anyone aged over 24 will have to pay the full cost of the course which the MPs have called a “kick in the teeth.”

Currently the Government pays half of the fees, but from next August students will be expected to take out loans to cover the total amount.

Education ministers believe that the plans will help more older people to study rather than deter them.

Mexborough MP Ed Miliband said: “We need an economy that works for working people and that means the Government should support people who are improving their skills and who undertake courses, training and qualifications to get on in life.

“This out of touch Government isn’t doing enough to reduce unemployment and I fear that FE loans could deter thousands of adults from applying at all.”

Doncaster College alone has 753 learners which will be affected by the changes. 

The MPs said the changes, which coincide with cuts to FE funding of 25 per cent, are likely to lead to a reduction in the quality and range of courses available.  

Ms Flint added: “These learners are often retraining after losing a job or gaining new skills to improve their prospects of work.

“When jobs are hard to come by and qualifications help to keep people in work, this is not the right time to be cutting off the funding.

“I’m really angry that after education maintenance allowances (EMA) have been stopped, university fees have been tripled and youth unemployment in Doncaster has more than doubled this is yet another kick in the teeth for people trying to get on.”

Loans will be available up to the value of £3,700 to cover the cost.

Only those seeking basic qualifications in literacy and numeracy will receive grants which they do not have to pay back.

Learners will be able to apply for loans from the start of April 2013, for learning starting in the 2013/14 academic year.

The terms and conditions will mirror those available for Higher Education courses.

There will be nothing to pay up front, low real rates of interest and nothing to repay until the individual is earning £21,000 a year.

Any outstanding balance will be written off after 30 years.