Strike action in higher education

Further education sector unites against government plans to slash funding for 18 year-old students

17 December 2013 | last updated: 7 March 2019

UCU has added its voice to growing calls for the government to rethink plans to slash funding for 18 year-olds studying in further education colleges from next year.

From next year, 18 year-old students will see their funding slashed by 17.5%. The move, as part of George Osborne's Autumn Statement, has been criticised by the union and groups representing colleges, including the Association of Colleges and the 157 Group.

The union said this latest cut, as the compulsory education age goes up to 18, is bad news for students and bad news for colleges. Young college students are already suffering from the withdrawal of targeted financial support through the education maintenance allowance (EMA).

Across England, the move is expected to hit around 100,000 young people, which will vary college by college. UCU says the students who most need the support are the very ones who will be hit hardest by the changes. Some colleges will have less funding based on when their students' birthdays are.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Colleges working with young people who have been failed by the school system will be hit hardest by this cut, as more 18-year-olds study in our colleges than schools.

'The fact that the further education sector is united in calls for a rethink exposes just how ill-thought through this policy is. The government has made a hash of recent key policies for students in post-16 education. It needs to urgently rethink this move to avoid another disaster.'

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