This document sets out Adult Education Service (AES) fees for 2023/24 for learners, staff, and other stakeholders. AES is dedicated to ensuring all adults can access high quality education in an affordable and flexible way. AES charges a course fee to learners where their personal circumstances don’t meet the criteria for full fee remission through the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) or West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Charging a course fee is not only a requirement of our funders but also an important way to generate income to enable the Council to continue to deliver its adult education strategy and be financially sustainable.

Adult Education Budget (AEB) courses

This section applies to all courses which are funded through either the Education Skills Funding Agency, or West Midlands Combined Authority grant and contracts. The ESFA and WMCA provide a list of eligibility criteria for fee remission or reduction, and a learner will be asked to provide evidence matched to these criteria.

Accredited (Formula Funded) Provision

Courses where learning leads to a formal, recognised qualification (certificated by an external awarding organisation), as well a number of non-accredited support learning activities will attract set fees in a small number of circumstances.

Courses and cost to learner
Course Type/Category Cost to Learner
English and Maths qualifications up to Level 2 (Functional Skills & GCSE) Free
Essential Digital Skills up to Level 1 Free
All adult skills courses for adults 19-23 years old Free
All accredited and non-accredited formula funded courses for over 23 years old and unemployed Free (some terms and conditions apply based on residency status and prior achievement)
Level 3 qualification Free (as long as first full Level 3 and they have not achieved a Level 3 qualification (or higher) in the past.)

Where the learner doesn’t meet the criteria to be fully funded, they will be required to pay 50% of the unweighted rate for the learning aim or programme of aims with the remaining 50% paid for by the funding body. Fees can be paid in a flexible way. In exceptional circumstances, we will be able to use funding from our hardship fund to assist with course fees for learners who need financial support to start or stay in learning.

Community learning provision

In most cases, the standard hourly rate a learner will pay for a CAES course in 2023/24 will be £4.00 per hour. There are variations in fees according to individual circumstances, and the charging structure for academic year 2023/24 is summarised in Appendix 1. The principles for fee setting are as follows:

  • Course fees are set at the *hourly rate x number of course hours. If there are any additional costs associated with the course they must be clearly shown separately to the learners (i.e., materials that the learners need to purchase and bring to the course)
  • Courses which are charged at variable rates must be publicised as such.
  • Fees must be entered into the appropriate place in marketing and publicity documents, course finder website

Late joiners

The full course fee is payable by late joiners, except where a place was unavailable to a learner at the course start date due to circumstances solely and exclusively within the Adult Education Service’s control. In this case a pro-rata fee is payable based on the remaining course hours at the learner’s joining date.

Places for carers

Carers accompanying learners attend courses in a carer capacity not a learner one. Carers must not be asked to complete an enrolment form, be included in the course register, be counted in course learner numbers or be charged a course fee.

Funding eligibility criteria

If one or more of the following apply, a learner will be entitled to fully funded learning with the CAES and across all ESFA and WMCA funding streams:

  • receive Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), including those receiving National Insurance credits only
  • receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • receive Universal Credit, and their take-home pay as recorded on their Universal Credit statement (disregarding Universal Credit payments and other benefits) is less than £617 a month (learner is sole adult in their benefit claim) or £988 a month (learner has a joint benefit claim with their partner)
  • are released on temporary licence, studying outside a prison environment, and not funded by the Ministry of Justice

In addition, if both of the following apply, a learner will be also entitled to fully funded learning:

  • receives other state benefits (not listed above) and their take-home pay (disregarding Universal Credit payments and other benefits) is less than £617 a month (learner is sole adult in their benefit claim) or £988 a month (learner has a joint benefit claim with their partner), and
  • wants to be employed, or progress into more sustainable employment, and their take-home pay (disregarding Universal Credit payments and other benefits) is less than £617 a month (learner is sole adult in their benefit claim) or £988 a month (learner has a joint benefit claim with their partner), and their learning is directly relevant to their employment prospects and the local labour market needs

In Receipt of Low Wage

If a learner is in work or self-employed earning less than £30,000 per year before tax, a learner is also entitled to fully funded learning with the CAES up to and including Level 2. The learner must provide evidence of gross annual wages in these circumstances. This could be a wage slip within three months of the resident's learning start date, a bank statement showing the paid amount or a current employment contract that states gross monthly/annual wages.

Ineligible Learners

Individual learners who wish to access provision but who are ineligible for WMCA/ESFA funding will be charged £10.00 per hour for face-to-face delivery (in venue or online) assuming that the relevant course has met the requirements for minimum learner numbers.

Minimum learner numbers

To meet contract requirements, we typically need to have a minimum number of 12 learners. However, there is an expectation that most courses will recruit more than the minimum number. Below are some guidelines for face-to-face classroom-based delivery:

  • Courses should have a minimum class size of 12; maximum size 24
  • Where no discretion on learner numbers has been applied – courses with 8 learners or below at week three should be postponed or cancelled by relevant member of education staff
  • Where no discretion on learner numbers has been applied – courses that reduce to below 10 learners during the course should be reported by the tutor to their line manager, and a decision will be made as to whether the course should continue or reduce in length of guided learning hours
  • Curriculum teams should aim for an average class size of 14

Refund Policy

Refunds will be considered in the following circumstances:

  1. If a learner has paid for a course/programme but cannot begin it because:
    • they have commenced paid employment that clashes with the time of the course/programme
    • the learner has become sick, and the period of sickness is expected to last for the majority of the course or programme
    • the learner has moved away from the area.
  2. If a learner has already started the course, refunds will normally be considered, subject to the above circumstances (i.e., not for everyone). Pro rata refunds will be given to cover the remainder of the course. Refunds for termly courses will only be given in exceptional circumstances and then in consultation with the Service Manager for the curriculum area concerned.
  3. If a learner requests a refund because the course does not meet their needs, refunds will only be considered if the pre-course/programme information was misleading or inaccurate in any way (in which case the Trades Description Act might apply). With a learner in this category, the Adult Education programme manager will arrange a meeting to ensure that the learner's grievance is legitimate. The explanation 'The course was not what I expected' is not enough.

For the above three circumstances, full refunds will be given on production of the receipt and proof of the above. An Individual Refund form should be completed and sent to the Service Manager for the curriculum area for approval.

Cancellation by AES due to:

  1. Insufficient numbers of learners for a course to run
  2. Single class cancellation for adverse weather conditions
  3. Single class cancellation for tutor absence, where a substitute tutor cannot be found.

The Refund form should be completed and sent to the Senior admin team who will forward it to the Service Manager for approval.

When refunds are given, a note to this effect will be made in the register and on the office copy of the receipt. All refunds will be processed and issued by the Senior Admin Team.

Please note: Learners who are on benefit and pay reduced fees for their course will only receive a refund if Adult Education Service cancel the whole course.