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Adult learning cash cuts hit over 60s

PUBLISHED: 17:35 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 25 August 2010

ADULT learners fear that cuts to over-60s subsidies will cause some courses to fold.

ADULT learners fear that cuts to over-60s' subsidies will cause some courses to fold.

From September the Adult Education College Bexley (AECB) will end 25 per cent discounts for over-60s due to the introduction of age discrimination laws.

Bromley Adult Education College (BAEC) dropped the discount last September because Age Discrimination Regulations 2006 forbid colleges from favouring the elderly. The price hike has forced John Johnson, of Arlington Close, Sidcup, to drop his Italian course starting at AECB in the Autumn.

The pensioner said: "If there is a fall from the 1,363 over-60s doing courses then the repercussions for tutors and students could be extremely damaging."

The law was brought in to help prevent discrimination against vulnerable groups like the elderly, but unexpectedly caused a legal issue over discrimination in their favour.

Peter Coates, 71, of Arcadian Close, Bexley, said he can afford to continue his German course at AECB, despite the price rising from just over £100 to £154.

But he added: "Some of the class will probably drop out, especially those studying more than one course."

The law will particularly sting those taking 'soft' subjects that have no qualification objective, as the government recently cut subsidies for non-accredited courses. The consultation, Informal Adult Learning - Shaping the Way Ahead, suggested some informal courses might be best taught out of college. A consultation report is due in September.

John Ruler, 71, of Hilldown Road, Hayes, worries that his art course at Bromley Adult Education College (BAEC) will become too expensive to attract students, adding: "They are vitally important at our age. You don't want to do more exams, you just want to keep your body active at a price you can afford."

Course costs at BAEC have risen by 7.5 per cent in the last five years. Michael Wheeler, principle at BAEC, said his college can probably keep 60 per cent of courses unaccredited, but said small colleges could feel the pinch as students drop out.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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