The proposals would see the Pupil Premium extended to students aged 16-19, and give all adults a new Personal Education and Skills Account (PESA) in order to fund lifelong learning. According to the party, annual funding for a student in 16-19 education in England has fallen by 18 per cent in real terms since 2010, and two in five further education colleges are in deficit. They say they would ‘significantly’ increase 16-19 education funding at the next spending review, and then set out a timetable to raise the core funding rate for full-time students aged 16-19 to match that of secondary school pupils by 2022. The extension of the pupil premium to 16-19 students would see a proportion of the funding paid directly to students to support them with travel and other education-related costs.
The Lib Dems are also calling for the introduction of a universal PESA for adults in England, with the government making three payments into an individual's PESA when the account holder turns 25, 40 and 55. There would also be additional payments in response to certain life events, such as redundancy. Those aged 25 or over would be able to use the money saved in their PESAs to pay for any accredited education or training course, with the party also pledging free careers advice to assist account holders in choosing a suitable course.
Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said ‘It is vital that we invest in our colleges and in all-age education. When half of students do not attend university and as most of us can expect to change careers over our working lives, we cannot afford not to.’
Greensheets will have reports from other political party conferences over the coming weeks.
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