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Concern for learners as more Area Reviews are announced

Monday 07-12-2015 - 14:03

The government has announced the next wave of area reviews of FE and sixth form colleges in England.

The process announced in July 2015 aims create 'fewer, larger, more resilient' colleges and is already underway in seven regions.

The six further regions in wave two include; Cheshire & Warrington, Stoke and Staffordshire, the Marches and Worcestershire, West of England, Thames Valley and Surrey. The reviews will begin early in the new year, with areas of Greater London expected to be announced as part of this wave.

The government have also indicated when other reviews will happen across the rest of England and it is expected that all of England will be reviewed by the end of March 2017.


Impact on learners

NUS has serious concerns over area reviews and the potential impact they will have on learners' ability to access high quality education.

Last week, NUS National Executive Council (NEC) unanimously agreed to campaign against further cuts to FE Colleges and ensure that learner voice is at the heart of any decisions to merge colleges.

Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President (Further Education) has warned that while "FE should be for everyone, the scale of cuts over the last six years mean the sector is on its knees", adding: "College mergers mean potential cuts to courses, staff and vital student support services that our members need to access education and succeed. The whole student movement needs to hold those making the decisions about our future to account and truly put learner voice first through area reviews."


Student roundtables

NUS has successfully lobbied the government to listen to learners on each area, establishing a formal process for learner voice to influence every area review board.

Commenting on this, Shakira said: "We've called student roundtables in every area, inviting students' unions to set out their expectations of FE. It's vital that unions from all colleges come to those meetings and help to collectively push principals, chairs of governors and local authorities to act in our interests, not just those of employers or to chase funding."

NUS has produced guidance on area reviews for unions to help understand the issues and lobby local MPs and councillors.

Unions involved in the next wave of reviews will be contacted about the roundtable events.


If you have any questions, please contact Shakira.Martin@nus.org.uk.

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