The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review in Parliament today. This sets out public expenditure for the period up to 2014/15, and as expected, he announced deep cuts to expenditure - which averaged 19% in those departments which were not protected from cuts (the only two which were being health and international development).
For mature students the main news specific to them related to further education:
- there will be significant cuts to entitlement to adult learning in FE. The entitlement to funding for a first level 2 qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs at A*-C) will be scrapped for those aged over 25, whilst students aged 24 and over will be charged fees for level 3 qualifications (equivalent to A-levels). For those studying at level 3 (and possibly level 2; the language is ambiguous) there will be income-contingent loans made available on a similar basis to students in higher education
- an extra £250m a year by 2014/15 will be spent on adult apprenticeships, with the Chancellor forecasting an extra 75,000 apprenticeships created
For part-time students, there was little that was new, although the Chancellor indicated that the government was accepting the general financial implications of the Browne Review, with possibly a cap on tuition fees at £7,000 for full-time students. Further detail was not given on these announcments.
Other announcements which will likely have an effect on mature and part-time students included changes to tax credits, with some elements of the child tax credit being increased, whilst other elements were frozen and, in the case of childcare support through Working Tax Credit, support will be cut.
These are the headlines: the MPT campaign will publish full briefings on the cuts and the impact on mature and part-time students in the coming days, and what students' unions and activists can do to help fight the worst effects.
For the full initial response from NUS to the CSR please click here.