MONEY for an extra 20,000 full-time students was announced this week in the latest further education funding round, in which almost 60 per cent of colleges received higher allocations.
Detailing how it has divided Pounds 3 billion between 4 colleges, the Further Education Funding Council said that extra government money had helped fund the "first steps of the Kennedy agenda" to widen participation, "although only the first steps", it conceded.
An extra Pounds 50 million this year will go to widen participation among over-19s and among 16 to 18-year-olds.
An extra Pounds 30 million for widening participation will fund an additional 12,000 full-time equivalent students. An extra Pounds 20 million for 16 to 18-year-olds will fund an extra 8,000 FTE students.
But the new money is thinly spread. Just two colleges, Sheffield and Newham, received more than Pounds 500,000 each to fund the most disadvantaged students. Exactly 100 colleges got no extra money.
The inner London colleges, many already doing their utmost to teach the disadvantaged "Kennedy students", will still have to make cuts, as the FEFC moved to converge traditionally diverse levels of funding. Lambeth College, despite an extra Pounds 222,000 for widening participation and a special "London weighting", saw a 5 per cent budget cut in cash terms, to Pounds 16.7 million. Tower Hamlets College, despite an additional Pounds 201,000 and the London weighting, saw a 2.5 per cent cut to its Pounds 11 million budget. "The Kennedy report has had zilch impact on us so far," said Annette Zera, principal of Tower Hamlets.
Colleges were guaranteed that no one would face cuts of more than 10 per cent. Overall, 181, or 42 per cent of FEFC-funded colleges have had their budgets cut, with just 19 seeing funding dip more than 5 per cent. The biggest losers were Rycotewood College and Hadlow College, which both have 10 per cent cuts.
Of the 246 winners, 31 colleges received rises of more than 10 per cent, including Richmond Adult and Community Education College getting a 60 per cent increase in its allocation to Pounds 2.8 million and Craven College a 26.2 per cent increase to Pounds 3.8 million.
Most colleges remained stable, with 174 receiving increases up to 5 per cent. An extra Pounds 10 million has kept the expected squeeze on efficiency to 2.75 per cent.
FEFC funding and strategy chief Geoff Hall said: "It is all moving in the right direction, but a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a small step. We hope Mr Brown will deliver."
Full allocations table, page 34