Further Education (FE) has felt the brunt of education cuts over the two governments. Funding for FE in England has decreased by 27 per cent since 2010, Scottish colleges have merged through the regionalisation process, Welsh government have flip flopped so much on spending that it has caused instability, and government cuts in Northern Ireland have resulted in severe job losses.
Successive budget cuts have left many colleges in a state of financial instability. The result has been continuous course closures, cuts to student support, and reductions in teaching provision.
Last year the government announced its Area Review program for England, a review of post-16 college and sixth form centers which aims to bring about ‘fewer, larger, more resilient colleges’. We believe that it is vital that students are heard throughout that process, and that we fight to protect the principle that further education should be accessible for all.
What are we doing about it?
For every area announced in the Area Review process, NUS have brought together student leaders, to discuss student priorities and key concerns about should colleges in the region merge. The discussions have focused on 4 key areas: what makes high quality education, what helps students to access education, what learner voice should look like and what are the key outcomes students expect from their FE experience.
Each discussion has generated a report which has been sent to the local Area Review groups, the Join Area Review Delivery Unit overseeing Area Reviews process and the FE Commissioner. NUS are additionally in the process of writing to every MP who has a college in their constituency with an overview of what students have said in their area.
What can you do to help?
Support our #FEunplugged campaign. We have launched our manifesto calling for 6 key things as colleges being to merge:
- Learner Voice sits at the heart of all providers
- Local transport is affordable and reliable
- Student support services enable students to achieve
- FE delivers an education, not just a qualification
- Wherever learning happens it should always be high quality
- It’s time for investment in FE
Information and resources for the #FEunplugged campaign can be found here.