Friday 29-01-2016 - 09:30
Today we’re launching a new campaign aimed at getting students, staff, MPs and local communities talking about area reviews.
The Further Education sector is on life support. We’ve seen cuts to EMA, the adult skills budged carved up, slashing of ESOL funding, axing of courses and adult student numbers crashing.
After successive cuts to further education over the last five years, the government has decided it is time to “rationalise” the sector, and their area review process aims to create “fewer, larger, more efficient and resilient” institutions and we expects a number of mergers to take place between colleges.
We’re deeply concerned there is no support for students to help them have their say. If colleges are merged, students may have to travel further for their courses, meaning they will be sacrificing more time and more money to access their education. In some places local transport infrastructure is not good enough to get students across an area and students’ learning could suffer if class sizes grow and resources have to be shared.
We will be working with students’ unions to run events and activities to find out what keeps students in college. We will then encourage them to use this information to lobby MPs, local authorities and local service providers, such as bus companies, to make sure students aren’t losing out when and if their colleges merge or close.
We are also hosting a roundtable for student representatives in each area as it comes up for review. A report from each of these roundtables is sent to the BIS area review board, so students’ needs are heard during the decision-making process.
The #FEunplugged campaign artwork will be unveiled at Derby College today.
Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President (Further Education), said: “Further education has reached crisis point and is now facing the biggest reform in its history. The #FEunplugged campaign will make sure students’ needs are not ignored during area reviews.
“NUS is worried the process is being rushed and has not been designed with learners’ best interests at heart. It’s crucial that the student voice is listened to because colleges are lifelines to local communities.
“Going back to college as an adult saved my life and my family. If I hadn’t been able to return to education as a young mother, and get the qualifications I did, I don’t know what would have happened to me. Colleges need to meet students’ needs so future generations can change their lives through further education in the same way I did.”
Want to know more? Visit www.nus.org.uk/feunplugged