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Government figures reveal an 11% drop in adults studying further education

23 June 2016 | last updated: 24 June 2016

The number of people aged 19 and above studying in further education fell by 11% between 2013/14 and 2014/15, according to government statistics released today.

UCU said the sharp fall in the number of adults participating in further education was a result of successive cuts to funding and highlighted a clear need for greater investment.

The union was responding to the latest statistical release from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which showed that overall participation in adult further education and skills fell by 315,900 (10.8%) between2013/14 and 2014/15.

UCU also warned that the 20,300 (1.8%) rise in adult apprenticeship numbers over the same period was a "drop in the ocean" compared to falls elsewhere. The union urged the government to invest more in a full range of education provision to address skills shortages and ensure that people can access the education they need.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'These figures are extremely worrying, and highlight the damage which years of funding cuts have done to further education. The government's vaunted expansion in apprenticeships is a drop in the ocean compared to the huge falls elsewhere.

'Ministers need to widen their focus and ensure proper support for different kinds of learning. Without more investment in a full range of education, this downward trend in participation is likely to continue, and thousands more will miss out on important opportunities to improve their skills and life chances.'