New figures show that much of the government's ring-fenced funding for further education will benefit less than a fifth of further education students, writes Tony Tysome.
Millions of extra pounds are being poured into colleges to recruit more full-time 16 to 18-year-olds, but more than 80 per cent of students are adults, most studying part-time, says a statistical bulletin published this week.
Further Education Funding Council figures also show there is a greater need to address achievement and retention rates for part-time students than for full-timers.
In 1998-99, 19.4 per cent of students on FEFC-funded courses were under 19. They were studying for 2 million qualifications, making up just over a third of total qualification aims in the sector. The rest were adults, studying 3.8 million qualifications, though 7.8 per cent were on full-time, full-year programmes.
Achievement and retention rates had also improved. In 1998-99, 86.5 per cent of full-time, full-year students completed their courses - 1 per cent up on 1997-98. Of other full-timers, 91.3 per cent completed, compared with 89.5 per cent the year before. But part-time retention was down from 84.4 per cent to 83.3 per cent.
The proportion of full-time full-year students gaining their desired qualifications was up from 69.8 per cent to 73.5 per cent, and for other full-timers from 77.5 per cent to 80.7 per cent. The proportion of part-timers rose from 71.5 per cent to 71.8 per cent.