A decision to put the educational needs of teenagers before the needs of adults is distorting lifelong learning policy according to the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).
NIACE is giving its full support to the national Protecting Adult Learning campaign led by the Association of Colleges (AoC), aiming to safeguard funding for adults.
The AoC campaign aims to end the 16-19 funding gap and protect adult learning.
NIACE senior policy officer said that the threat to adult education had come from a 2000 Law which made clear that the Learning and Skills Council must meet the needs of 16-19 year olds first - and can only spend what is left - on the education and training of anyone else.
He said: “Over the next four years there’s going to be an increase in the numbers of 16 to 19 year olds and more of them will stay on in education. But unless additional money flows in, the price of this welcome success with young people will be paid for at the expense of adult learning opportunities - an unanticipated consequence rather than a deliberate decision from a government that has been instinctively sympathetic to the idea of lifelong learning.
“We want more 16 year olds to extend their education but this should not reduce opportunities for adults to learn. We are fully behind the Association of Colleges and everybody else who wants to protect adult learning,” he added.