Earlier today, Stephen joined a host of further education providers in criticising the government for making damaging cuts to education funding for 18 year olds.
The debate, secured by Labour MP Kate Green, was tabled in response to an announcement in December 2013 by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), that there is to be a cut in funding of 17.5 percent for full-time students aged 18 at the start of the academic year 2014-15.
Kate pointed out in the debate the that the cut, which it is estimated will affect 100,000 students and save £150 million, will mean that "the funding per student would be reduced from £4,000 to £3,300, at an average cost to FE colleges of £600,000 per college, although some will suffer much greater cuts—in some cases, in excess of £1 million. Sixth-form colleges will also be hit, many of which have already suffered substantial funding cuts; some face the loss of as much as a third of their funding over the lifetime of this Parliament"
Speaking in the debate in Westminster Hall, Stephen said: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for securing a debate on this very important issue. She has talked about what college principals are saying. Let me quote what the principal of Newham sixth-form college has said, describing those affected:
“These are ambitious and aspirational students who have stuck with their commitment to education. They are doing the right thing…How were they to know that the system would decide that they don’t deserve to be funded for 3 years of further education at the same rate as those students who only need 2 years?”
Is not it a very arbitrary and damaging cut that has been introduced?
You can watch the full debate by clicking here.
Speaking after the debate, Stephen commented: "This government has scrapped the Building Schools for the Future programme, raised tuition fees, abolished Educational Maintenance Allowance, and now they are making this cut to further education provision for 18 year olds. This cut will hit the most vulnerable students the hardest and it just shows this government has its priorities wrong"