Leader: Colleges need cash fillip

May 21, 2004

Further and adult education are two parts of the public service that are used to playing second fiddle (or worse) when national budgets are set. But both are crucial to the economic and social health of a modern state, particularly one that is serious about extending opportunities to a broader section of the population. Reports this week suggest that the message is still not getting through: participation in adult learning is falling and colleges are yet again on the verge of financial crisis.

In the run-up to a spending review, every interest group is going to make the best possible case for preferential treatment while every other will fear for its share of the cake. However, higher education has no interest in seeing its partners unable to function effectively, especially when those most at risk are the colleges most heavily engaged in advanced work.

If the skills agenda is to be more than mere window dressing, the less fashionable end of the education system must not be forgotten in July.

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