Adult learners face fees rise

COURSE fees for adult learners could rise by as much as 15 per cent under new proposals set to go before councillors.

Hartlepool Borough Council plans to increase the price of vocational courses by ten per cent, to about £105, and other courses by 15 per cent, to about £150 a year.

Education bosses say the setting of adult education fees is a “difficult” balancing act between generating enough income to meet costs.

New national guidelines also mean people on a range of benefits – except those on Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) and recommended to take a course – will have to start paying their own fees.

Last year, almost 1,000 town residents received free courses, almost three quarters of which were on JSA and would still be eligible for a free course next year.

Labour councillor Ged Hall, portfolio holder for adult and public health services, is due to discuss the matter on Monday, July 25.

If approved, the changes would come in from August in time for the new academic year.

A range of courses including literacy and numeracy, family learning, family literacy, and neighbourhood learning in deprived communities are expected to remain free of charge. A council report said: “The setting of adult education fees is a difficult task, involving a balance between the need to generate sufficient income to meet costs, while encouraging adult learners to participate.

“Any significant increase in fees is likely to be unpopular and could lead to some fall-off in student numbers.”