It was announced in November that Jeremy Hunt would be offering no additional funding to help support Further Education during the cost-of-living crisis. Despite the hikes in costs surrounding the crisis, from keeping the lights on to staffing challenges, only schools would receive a boost in budget – a £4.2 billion increase across the next two years.
What does this mean for FE moving forward?
Well, despite the obvious disappointment of no additional support, it means further education providers are going to have to be extra careful with their budgeting moving into 2023 and what they choose to spend their funds on.
The uncertainty that surrounds much of the education sector is growing, from how will providers maintain their course delivery to campus running costs, not to mention the staffing challenges and student well-being issues that are continuously rising.
It could be said the future of FE is looking bleak, with David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, responding in a tweet that it was ‘criminal to overlook colleges once again, deeply disappointing and wrong’ and a ‘levelling up failure’.
How can providers continue to drive positive outcomes for learners?
1. Ensuring learners are engaged can save you money.
Earlier this year it was revealed that nearly half of all apprentices dropped out in 2021. If providers consider the potential risk of loss in funding, not to mention the reputation of low completion rates, soon the implications of apprentices leaving becomes a much larger issue.
To put that into context, if 50% of apprentices drop out of a customer service apprenticeship halfway through – that equals a loss of £2,100 per learner. With so much pressure on finances as it is, can you afford to lose thousands of pounds for every apprentice that fails to complete?
Keeping learners engaged is just one way you can save money, helping to prevent costly drop out as students are motivated to stay on track and complete their course. At Tribal we’re committed to helping our partners ensure learner wellbeing is monitored throughout their journey, enabling early intervention if required to ensure positive outcomes for not only the learner, but provider too.
2. Recruitment and retention of staff.
College staff are paid less than their counter parts in schools, and with rising living costs, the crisis to retain staff has never been harder.
The department for education will continue to support recruitment, retention, and development of teachers through a package of support during the 2022/23 academic year. The department also intends to run a national recruitment campaign and teach in FE service to support potential FE teachers into jobs.
There will also be bursaries worth up to £26,000 for those looking to train in priority subject areas for 22/23.
The question of efficiencies and teacher productivity will likely remain a constant. Our recent article “An analysis of Teaching Financial Productivity in colleges” draws upon the sector’s latest Financial Benchmarking data to investigate the numbers that impact the overall financial efficiency of colleges.
3. A personalised experience for learners.
Utilising your technology solutions – of which most providers will use at least one system, can allow you to personalise your learners experience so they achieve their academic and vocational goals.
Creating individual learning plans for your learners, delivered at the right time can ensure they progress throughout their course and secure your funding as they work towards completion.
In December 2021, it was revealed that 96% of children between 16 – 17 years old owned a smartphone, which is why providers should consider how to create self-service access, on any device to create opportunities throughout their learner’s course.
4. Flexibility is key.
The funding crisis isn’t just about how providers will struggle to make ends meet, but also the rise in costs for students, including how they travel to and from their college to taking a part-time job to help with the bills at home.
Offering evening classes or own-time learning could be on way in which colleges are able to provide continued learning to those who are also working part-time. Flexible learning may also be more effective for those on adult learning courses who are hoping to upskill or retrain.
There is no doubt that further education providers need help to continue delivering positive outcomes for learners – whether it be in the form of funding, government support, new ways of teaching or something else entirely.
If you’re looking to innovate your education strategy, get in touch with Tribal to see how we can help.
Want more? Read how Lakes College used Tribal’s ebs solution to manage their progress and performance.
We’re currently making available an extract of our Benchmarking analysis for Further Education in a bid to help colleges better understand how their financial operations stack up against the backdrop of the wider sector.
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