On the eve of Adult Learning Week, the repercussions of funding cuts decided upon by the Government are being felt around the country. And in Norfolk, Norwich City College has announced that there will need to be cuts in Adult Education provision following the £630,000 cut in Governmental support. Anywhere up to twenty full time teaching positions are due to be axed, with people planning to enter education and thus return to the working world face either the cancellation of their courses or an alarming increase in fees; in some cases, this could prove prohibitive.
The Norwich City College are especially frustrated at this blow, having succeeded in their outreach programmes in attracting some 10,000 adult students ““ those students aged 19 or older ““ and bringing them back into education. This is further supported by the initiatives involving centres of excellence that promote vocational training in skills that are sought for and will be directly employed in the workplace. Principle Dick Palmer said that “through the establishment of our three Centres of Vocational Excellence, we are helping more and more local people get the skills they need to get the jobs that local businesses need to fill.” He expresses his disappointment, and has promised to pursue alternatives to redundancies in conversation with the various unions involved.
LSC and the AoC
Nick Foster, the Executive Director of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), is of the opinion that the crisis in funding was partly caused by the increased popularity of the Adult Learning courses. He says: “There has been a terrific growth in people trying to improve language and literacy skills so the total amount of money available cannot cover everything and it has to be sorted according to priority.” He further states that the funding from the Government, whilst it does represent an increase, has failed to keep pace with the demand from the public, saying that due to this “effectively there will be less money for some adult education”.
The Association of Colleges (AoC), however, have stressed that this has been a long time coming, and is a subject that they have been campaigning on for some time. This was recognised by Dick Palmer, who said that the AoC had been warning of this eventuality for some months. A spokesman for the AoC said that this was only to be expected from the squeeze on Further Education funding, stating: “The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has clearly not given the LSC enough money in 2005-6 and 2006-7 for colleges like City College Norwich to deliver the targets and student numbers growth it expects from them.”
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