Welsh Labour cuts to Further Education have placed the sector under threat financially, with colleges now facing “significant cost pressures” – according to a report by the Auditor General for Wales.

In the last 5 years Welsh Government funding to the FE sector has been cut by £22 million, leading to a 71% cut in funding for part-time courses.

It means that almost half of the 14 established colleges in Wales now carry a deficit – including Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Cardiff & Vale College, Coleg y Cymoedd, WEA YMCA Community College Cymru, Coleg Ceredigion, and St David’s Catholic College.

In 2015/16 there were around 131,000 learners at Welsh colleges:

48,000 – Full-time (37%)

67,000 – Part-time (51%)

16,000 – Work based learning (12%)

Shadow Education Secretary, Darren Millar, said the report should serve as a “timely reminder” to the Welsh Government of the need to support the sector.

He said:

“Further education colleges have a crucial role to play in enabling young people and adults to fulfil their potential, but the sector is being placed under threat by deep budget cuts from the Welsh Labour Government.

“This report by the Auditor General highlights the significant cost pressures facing many Welsh colleges serves as a timely reminder of the need to act before we see a decline in standards.

“For far too long, institutions of further education have been unjustly treated as lesser entities of learning by the Welsh Labour Government, whose elitist policies have disproportionately favoured universities.

“Successive Ministers have missed completely the invaluable contribution of further education providers to cultivating a skilled workforce for local businesses and attracting inward investors.

“The Welsh Labour-led Government should take action to reverse these cuts by investing some of the savings it makes from changes in student support into our further education colleges.”

The report can be accessed/downloaded online https://www.wao.gov.uk/publication/welsh-government-oversight-further-education-colleges%E2%80%99-finances-and-delivery

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