Colleges have to offer language courses despite funding cuts

College students

TES has announced that colleges will still be required to offer language courses to thousands of learners who are unemployed, in spite of funding being cut by millions of pounds.

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) recently revealed that all funding for the Esol Plus Mandation courses (teaching English to other-language speakers) will be cut, and it was a £45m programme.

TES discovered that colleges are still expected to teach the courses though, which are targeted at those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, whose spoken English has been identified as being of a poor quality.

Colleges have said they will be unable to cope with the demand now their funding has been cut 11 per cent for next year, with another 3.9 per cent cut announced.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) reported that 47 English colleges offered the programme in 2014-2015, which involved £26m of government funding being shared between them, helping approximately 16,000 people learn English.

“Colleges will now have to decide what they are going to be able to deliver with that remains of their adult skills budget,” said David Corke of the AoC.

David Byrne, principal of Barnet and Southgate College, said “There will be pressure on colleges to use their remaining adult skills budget to mop this up. But how do you meet that need with skills budgets already cut back? The idea of mopping up any more is not possible, we have already allocated that cash.”