From education to employment

Protests in Stourbridge over plans to sell off college

Protesters will take to the streets of Stourbridge on Saturday (29 June) to protest against the planned closure of Stourbridge College.

Crowds will assemble from 11am at the College’s Hagley Road site for a march beginning at 11.30am.

The march will head to Swinford Common on Stanley Road for a rally at 12.30pm, where speakers will include the University and College Union’s head of further education Andrew Harden, UNISON regional secretary Ravi Subramanian and local councillor Pete Lowe.

The plan to sell off the college, which merged with BMet in 2013, was announced in May following a recommendation by the FE Commissioner. BMet has been subject to a financial notice of concern since July 2015, and the Commissioner was called in to review the college group’s operations in February this year.

UCU said the decision would be a huge blow to the community and mean an end to vocational education in Stourbridge.  Last month, over 300 people attended a public meeting to discuss the announcement, organised by UCU, UNISON, the National Education Union and local Labour party campaigners.

The closure would affect hundreds of staff and students, but the unions said that there had been no meaningful consultation about the move with the local community, staff or students. Students will be expected to travel to Dudley or Halesowen colleges to access courses from September, but many students have raised concerns about the cost and additional time this will take. 

The union said the closure timetable did not leave enough time for proper consideration of all the options for the college’s future and say BMet must halt its plans and consult properly with all those affected. UCU said it was not right for local people to pay the price for BMet’s failings.

UCU head of further education, Andrew Harden, said:

‘Closing Stourbridge College would be a huge blow for the community and end vocational education in the town. Students are understandably worried and unhappy about the prospect of having to travel further and pay more to access their courses. Local people should not have to pay such a high price for years of poor management by BMet.

‘This decision affects hundreds of staff and students, but the current closure timetable is far too short for proper consideration of all the options. BMet must urgently halt these damaging plans so that proper consultation can take place with everyone affected.’

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