CSR analysis - Education

Concerns for new entrants

Changes to further and higher education could have an impact on new entrants to the industry, according to the heads of several horticultural colleges.

Capel Manor College chief executive Madeline Hall said further education was "worryingly absent" from the comprehensive spending review and "it would be iniquitous if the funding for vocational students is reduced while schools are protected".

She said the statement from the Department for Education failed to recognise the large number of 16-18-year-olds benefiting from further education and warned that higher education was likely to take a "massive hit".

Writtle College was anticipating 40 per cent cuts in higher education and 25 per cent cuts in further education. Head of faculty for land-based studies Tom Cole said he was concerned about spending budgets for learning support and the removal of educational maintenance allowances.

He said changes to funding for level two and three courses would impact on over-24s, who would have to pay fees. "Unemployment is rising and people want to retrain. I expect this will be a problem for career changers," he said.

RHS director of science and learning Dr Simon Thornton-Wood said increased funding for adult apprenticeships was a good opportunity for colleges. He said the review offered the opportunity to get more gardening into schools, but Government expectations of the industry to support training would be difficult.

He added: "Horticulture is clinging on by its fingertips in university-level education and I do wonder where the support is for the future."

A representative from Hadlow College said there were too many "grey areas" within the review to fully anticipate its impact. They raised the issue of the 60,000 new entrants needed in the industry over the next 10 years and said they were concerned because "the land-based sector does not seem to be given any special funding opportunities".

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