From education to employment

University and College Lecturers” Union Worried for Staff as Merger Proposed

NATFHE, the University & College Lecturers” Union, has expressed concern at the implications for staff and the local community of plans to merge Keighley College with another further education college.

There was a shortfall of approximately £1 million at the college due to financial mismanagement, putting the full-time jobs of a significant number of lecturers in jeopardy. However, a process of negotiations made the redundancies voluntary, rather than compulsory.

Management Criticised

Martyn Moss, NATFHE regional official in Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “Only this time last year, staff went through a very painful process where they faced losing their jobs. Now, it looks like they are about to go through the same again.” The former principal at Keighley College, David Gates, left the post just before Christmas in 2005. In early March 2006, inspectors rated the college’s management as inadequate.

This week, the acting Keighley principal, Chris Moore, sent a letter to all staff informing them that the Board of the Corporation and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) had decided a formal merger would be the “best way forward” for the college.

However, NATFHE has been told very little about the plans for this merger, despite making several requests for further information. It fears that the staff at Keighley College could face yet another spell of uncertainty and insecurity regarding their future at the college. The union is also concerned that the residents of Keighley could lose their own independent local college, with the consequent deterioration in service provision.

Uncertain Future

Moss says “We do not know what the future of further education will be in Keighley ““ the loss of its own college could have a devastating impact on the local community.” Moss and NATFHE also press for talks, with Moss commenting: “We call for urgent talks with the college and the West Yorkshire LSC. It is very unfair to leave staff in the dark about their futures in this way.”

It is hard for FE colleges to move on and gain importance within the education sector, if financial mismanagement and job insecurity for the staff loom above. Watch this space for more news on what plans Keighley College and the LSC have for the merger.

Sudakshina Mukherjee

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