Headlines: November 12th, 2008

Further education colleges are delivering a better return on investment to learners than leading savings accounts according o figures published today. They also show that colleges are generating billions of pounds to the national economy.

Today’s study into the economic impact of FE colleges was commissioned to mark Colleges Week. It shows that contributions from past and present college students over the past 15 years was approximately 28 billion pounds in added income to the national economy in 2006 – 07 alone. The Association of Colleges also points to socio-economic benefits for local economies through purchases, staff wages and the improvement in learners’ skills.

The research, carried out by EMSI, also indicates that colleges return more to taxpayers than they cost. It shows that the effects of learning at colleges on reducing health, crime and unemployment means that every qualification gained effectively saves the taxpayer 89 pounds in ‘avoided social costs’. That is made up of savings to the NHS, reduced spending on security and lower take up of Jobseekers Allowance. Overall the study finds that for every pound of Government investment in colleges, the return to the taxpayer is worth one pound seventy pence. The study also looks at the benefits for individuals and says people who invest time and sacrifice short-term earnings to get a qualification can expect a 10 per cent return on their investment in the long term, which is more than the 6.25 per cent potentially available from the current leading ISA on the market.

David Collins, the President of the Association of Colleges, said the research showed clearly that England’s FE colleges were a sound investment from a number of perspectives. He added, “Colleges enrich the lives of learners and increase their lifetime incomes and they benefit taxpayers by generating increased tax revenues from an enlarged economy and reduced demand for taxpayer-supported social services.”