Up to 70,000 students could find themselves shut out of college this year after English further education funding chiefs this week admitted they had turned down bids for extra places worth £30 million, writes Tony Tysome.
The Learning and Skills Council then rubbed salt into the wound by saying that while it had refused to fund the bids for extra places, colleges still had enough money to meet the targets it had set them.
The Association of Colleges this week warned that courses would have to be cut and up to 70,000 would-be students turned away this year because of the Pounds 30 million shortfall.
It said the situation would become "even worse" next year because the LSC would not have enough money to meet the government's priority targets for recruiting more adults to basic skills and courses, leading to a level-2 qualification.
AoC chief executive John Brennan said: "The LSC's admission that it had already imposed £30 million of cuts underestimates the real level as many colleges were advised against even applying for additional funds for adult education and skills. The fact is that there is insufficient funding in the system to meet government targets for national upskilling. Colleges will therefore be pressed to find other income through more work with employers and raising fees for individuals."
Both the Department for Education and Skills and the LSC insisted this week that they "firmly believed" that funding available in the current spending round up to 2005-06 would be enough to meet targets set in the skills strategy.
A joint DFES and LSC statement issued this week said: "Both the Department for Learning and Skills and the Learning and Skills Council firmly believe that the funding available in the current spending round is sufficient to meet the targets that have been set in the skills strategy."