UK: Ready for the crunch?

As they prepare to open their doors to a new wave of students, college principals will be pondering whether the credit crunch will have the same impact on their business as the previous economic downturn of the early 1990s, writes The Guardian. Then, recession saw a boom in further education, as the unemployed and those concerned about losing their jobs turned to local colleges to up-skill, re-skill or take leisure courses to fill their time.

Return to Learn and Access to Higher Education courses led a massive expansion in adult learning. With economic growth now grinding to a halt, unemployment is again climbing. This time, with a government focus on the 14-to-19 cohort and on 'demand-led' skills training, will colleges be able to take advantage if rising unemployment leads to a rise in demand for learning?

In the 1990s recession, adult learners were expected to pay just 25% of the cost of their courses, while today it is 50%. Will they be willing to pay higher fees as their resources become more stretched? As the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education points out, some 1.5m adult learning places funded by the Learning and Skills Council have already been lost in the past two years.
Full report on The Guardian site