Tax payers

Taxpayer paying 'over the odds' for UTCs according to new report

A report, published today (June 10) by the Public Accounts Committee, is calling on the Department for Education to rethink their approach to University Technical Colleges (UTCs), as findings show taxpayers pay ‘over the odds’.

New financial targets and measures of success for students are recommended as part of the ‘clear roadmap’ suggested for UTCs.

UTCs were established in 2010, offering more practical, technical alternatives to traditional education for young people ages 14 to 19, but the report shows that UTCs haven’t provided a ‘distinctive, financially sustainable education offer’.

The Department has had to financially support UTCs, of which 48 were still open in Jan 2019, as they were operating at an average capacity of 45% with low student numbers, totalling nearly £750m.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“An awful lot of money has gone into this idea with good results alarmingly thin on the ground – although it’s very hard to tell when the Department hasn’t managed in 10 years to say what a good result is. While the Department determines what success is for the students already committed to a UTC education, it needs to look to the future and financial management of UTCs. 

“It is not fair to make this kind of alternative offer to students trying to equip themselves to make a living, and then not ensure that it delivers a sustainable, quality, recognised measure of success for them.

“For students in UTCs it’s not an expensive if innovative experiment, it’s their future – more uncertain now than ever as we face what the Chancellor has described as an unprecedented recession. The Department must show us how it is going to make UTC education worthwhile – for students, their parents and the taxpayer.”

Other recommendations from the Committee include collaboration between the more successful UTCs and the ones struggling to attract students, clear three-year financial goals for each site – with preparation to close if they are not met and the use of data to track performance of UTCs which in turn can help parents assess the benefits.

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