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Colleges must be reclassified as public sector bodies

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Colleges must be reclassified as public sector bodies, says UCU

The University and College Union (UCU) today (Friday) said it is “wrong” that English further education colleges are classified as private sector bodies and that they must now be reclassified as part of the public sector.

The union was responding to the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) decision to review the classification of further education colleges.

UCU head of policy and equality Quinn Roache said:

‘It is wrong that English further education colleges are currently classified as private sector bodies. They are funded by government to provide education and training to the public, they often educate the same cohort of students as schools do, yet schools are categorised as public sector bodies whereas colleges are not. This is an accountancy trick used to privatise debts and pension liabilities. It has not benefitted colleges, staff, students or the communities they serve.

‘It is time to reclassify English colleges as part of the public sector, as is already the case in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This will allow them to access the financial benefits available to state schools, such as the VAT refund scheme and the National Insurance compensation scheme. Once the ONS classifies them as being in the public the sector, the government must not belatedly change the rules to withhold these benefits. Every single financial benefit available to state schools needs to be extended to further education colleges.’

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