Furness College has joined forces with many other colleges nationwide today to support the findings of a long-awaited report into post-18 education funding.
The college, which is the largest in Cumbria, has welcomed the Augar Review, which concluded that colleges urgently need more funding and recognition for the vital role they play.
The commission, set up by the Prime Minister to look at tuition fees, found there was a ‘powerful’ case for change in the FE sector, which had been ignored by successive governments in favour of higher education. It said £3billion in additional funding should flow to colleges and training providers each year and concluded that colleges, rather than universities, needed the most urgent attention.
Andrew Wren, Principal and Chief Executive of Furness College in Barrow, said the final report clearly recognised the challenges faced by the further education sector. He called on political leaders to implement its findings.
“FE Colleges have been sidelined but now there is a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential. It is heartening to read in the report that the commission says further education holds the key to improving social mobility.
“We are united with other colleges in our view that more funding should be made available for FE students, both 16-19 and adults, to enable us to invest in education and skills which meet the needs of the workforce in South Cumbria,” he said.
“We need to be giving students in this area the very best chances to succeed and reach their own goals, which is how we can make a difference to our economy and the communities we serve.
Mr Wren said the review was the first since the 1960s to look at higher and further education together and urged action.
“This is a unique chance to act and transform this sector, which has been neglected,” he said. “We want a future where we are free to innovate and implementing the findings of this report would be a significant step forward.”
Furness College, which delivers technical education from its campus at Channelside and has a sixth form at Rating Lane, is one of more than 160 colleges to support the review findings. An open letter has been sent to the Chancellor and Secretary of State.