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Much of the speculation in the build-up to the publication of Philip Augar’s review of post-18 education funding has been about a possible redistribution of money from higher education to further education.

It is easy to see why. The total income of the 269 colleges in England was put at £7 billion for 2015-16 by the Association of Colleges. Universities in England (not the UK, for fairness of comparison) get about £30bn a year—and there are far fewer of them.

These figures include tuition fees and research grants, both of which are generally bigger in higher education. Colleges have a lower cost base and their resources are devoted almost mostly to teaching, with few research obligations. In addition, universities are generally far larger institutions. Nonetheless, it is easy to see why the Russell Group described further education as “underfunded” in its recent submission to the post-18 funding review, and it would be no surprise to see colleges’ perceived Cinderella status addressed in Augar’s findings (when they appear).

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