All but 4 per cent of colleges will get more funding next year in one of the best ever further education funding settlements.
Provisional funding allocations for 1999-2000 released this week by the Further Education Funding Council detail how Pounds 3.2 billion will be shared among the sector's 440 providers. Colleges have been given Pounds 324 million extra for next academic year but will be expected to recruit 178,000 more students as part of a plan to add 700,000 students to the sector by 2002.
The provisional allocations show that 96 per cent of colleges will get a cash increase, with an average funding boost of 5 per cent. Just 16 colleges will face funding cuts. The budget cut will be less than 1 per cent at all but one of those colleges, it will be 2 per cent at one institution.
FEFC chief executive David Melville said that this funding round was "one of the best ever" for further education. "These allocations provide the means for colleges and other lifelong learning providers to deliver," he said.
Colleges serving the most disadvantaged areas got some of the biggest increases as funding to broaden participation kicked in. Inner London colleges were among the most successful - Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth colleges did particularly well.
Sixth-form and tertiary colleges will get their best settlement ever, the FEFC said, to reward their record for growth among 16 to 19-year-olds.
The allocations, which will be finalised with institutions in the next two months, include Pounds 25 million earmarked to widen participation and Pounds 60 million to fund growth in participation by 16 to 18-year-olds. The FEFC has also set aside Pounds 64 million to fund more participation by adults.