Institutions running adult education courses outside further education colleges received a 20 per cent increase in funding from the Further Education Funding Council between 1993/94 and 1994/95.
The increase was welcomed by delegates at last week's annual conference of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, where many expressed concern at the cuts being made in non-vocational adult education.
Geoff Daniels, assistant director of education, programmes at the funding council said that growth in funding in adult education classes showed that these "external institutions" could survive alongside further education colleges. The funding council only funds vocational adult education (known as schedule two funding) and there had been fears that all this money would go to the colleges.
External institutions which run vocational classes have to apply for money through further education colleges - with which they are in competition. "Our experience is that applications are getting through," says Mr Daniels. The money increased from nearly Pounds 50 million in the first year to Pounds 53.7 million in the second - while the number of institutions applying for the money fell from 550 to 409.
David Blunkett, shadow education secretary, said that there had been a 60 per cent drop in the participation of older people in adult education. "This is a direct result of substantial increases in fees and the removal of classes," he said. "This suggests that the push for vocationalism and the Government's obsession with cutting local education authority spending has been achieved at a price."
At the conference Tim Boswell, further and higher education minister, said: "I am aware of the very real pressures on local authorities. This has been the toughest spending round for many years." But he said that the duty imposed on local authorities to fund non-vocational adult education was one that they could not "simply ignore".