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Comprehensive Spending Review: training and higher education

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The coalition government has made much of the need to re-balance the economy in the run-up to the spending review.

A part of that re-balancing centres on encouraging expansion in the private sector as a way of taking up the slack of the 490,000 slated job losses in public services.

Announcements made by the Chancellor in his spending review speech on changes to the Department of Business budget were, therefore, of particular interest to the broader business community.

The Department is to lose 25 per cent of its funding over the course of the next four years.

It is estimated that 65 per cent of those savings will come from funding reforms to higher education as outlined in Lord Browne’s review. In other words, increased student fees will help to supplement the Department’s cuts.

However, the science budget is to remain at £4.6 billion a year, so protecting the teaching of and research into stem subjects such as technology, maths and engineering.

The further education budget is to fall by £1.1 billion, the equivalent of 25 per cent, over the next four years. But the government has insisted that it will continue to support basic skills provision in order to boost literacy and numeracy skills.

The government also committed itself to increase spending on adult apprenticeships by £250 million a year, creating an extra 75,000 apprenticeship places.

However, the flagship Train to Gain programme is to end as part of the cuts.

It will be replaced by a SME-focused training scheme.

The government has also confirmed the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies set for 2012