From education to employment

Colleges fear impact of spending cuts

More than nine in ten colleges facing 2011-2012 cuts believe reduced funding will have a negative impact on their teaching and learning capabilities, according to a survey published today.

The joint snapshot survey by the NUT and UCU reveals 74 per cent of colleges face possible teacher redundancies and 76 per cent are gearing up for potential support staff redundancies.

Among threats to college education provision highlighted by respondents to the survey were reductions in courses offered (55 per cent), increases in group size (52 per cent), and a decrease in the number of hours per course (40 per cent).

In addition, none of the 69 colleges surveyed by the unions stated that their students saw the Government’s new proposals for the Education Maintenance Allowance as adequate. Some 68 per cent of respondents added that recruitment to their college would be adversely affected by cuts to EMA.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, which is preparing a one-day strike in June in conjunction with the ATL over pension contributions, said: “The impact of not only the real terms cuts faced by colleges but also the 75% cut in enrichment and tutorial funding is nothing short of devastating. Teachers in this crucial sector face job losses and increased workload while students will be forced out of education by the two thirds cut in funding for the Education Maintenance Allowance.

“High quality education is essential to growth and prosperity. We need a highly skilled workforce to compete in the global economy. These cuts are just the latest in a shockingly long list of short sighted moves by the Coalition Government, which will affect not only this present generation of students and their families but society as a whole.”

Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the UCU, commented: “This survey shows the true impact of the Government’s education cuts. Colleges will no longer be able to offer students the same high-quality learning experience as courses get shorter and class-sizes increase.

“Colleges play a key role in helping people stay on in education, as well as giving many others a second chance to retrain. The Government can say all it likes about being committed to social mobility, yet the reality doesn’t square with the rhetoric. As well as cutting funding for institutions, it has removed vital lifelines for college students, such as the Education Maintenance Allowance.

“It is essential that colleges join with us in opposing these punitive cuts and that institutions are not panicked into making short-term changes that will do lasting damage to education and jobs in their local communities.”

Susannah Fairbairn

Related Articles