Government should reconsider education funding cuts, says Barking and Dagenham College principal

Cathy Walsh, CEO and principal of Barking and Dagenham College

Cathy Walsh, CEO and principal of Barking and Dagenham College - Credit: Barking and Dagenham College

A college principal has spoken out against government plans to cut further education budgets.

Cathy Walsh, Barking and Dagenham College principal, said the decision to cut funding by 17.5 per cent for full-time students aged 18 would have “unintended consequences”.

She made the comments on behalf of the Association of Colleges, which is urging the coalition government to reconsider the funding change amid fears it could have a detrimental effect on young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“This decision seems to fly in the face of the government’s own aims to get more young people of this age to stay in education and training,” she said.

“We all understand the need to rein in public spending, but this cut is poorly targeted and under-researched, and will have unintended consequences both for London’s over-stretched colleges and for some of their most vulnerable students.

“These students need more support, not less, if they’re to avoid joining the ranks of those not in education, employment or training.”

The college itself, based in Rush Green, Dagenham, has 728 students aged 18.

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At present the unweighted funding rate for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds is £4,000 per student per year.

If the planned funding cut goes ahead, 18-year-olds would be funded at an estimated £3,200 per student per year on average.

The Education Funding Agency is hoping this reduction will save them £150million after plans to tighten the education budget were first announced by George Osborne in the autumn.

However, education secretary Michael Gove confirmed in a letter earlier this month he would consider options to mitigate the impact of the funding change.