Friday 29-01-2016 - 09:00
In April 2015 David Cameron said “we are the party of working people”, which is ironic given that the conservatives have decimated Further Education over the past five years, pulling the plug on opportunities for many to be able get the education and skills needed to enter or stay in the workforce.
Here are just six examples (of many) of how the Tories have targeted FE since being in government since 2010...
1. It all started in 2010 when the government decided to scrap Education Maintenance Grant (EMA) and the Adult Learning Grant (ALG), which were weekly payments to students who attended college who needed support to pay for transport, food and equipment. The payments were replaced with a much smaller bursary fund which meant students went cap in hand to the college to ask for money when they were in dire straits.
2. In 2013 the Tories decided that if you were over the age of 24 you should probably take out a loan to pay for your Level 3 education (that’s A-Levels, BTECS and Access courses). The majority of people who’ve taken out the loan are women returning to study in areas where they’re not expected to meet the £21,000 repayment threshold. This year our pal Gideon announced in the spending review that this loan would now be rolled out to 19-23 year olds.
There are 1.3 million fewer adult learners in FE than there were five years ago. We don’t think the loans are working. Maybe just make it free yeah?
3. In 2013 it was decided that students in FE didn’t need qualified teachers, so they rushed through a back door decision letting colleges recruit people with no teaching qualifications to teach students.
4. In 2015 24 per cent was cut from the Adult Skills Budget, meaning vital educational provision for adults will be stretched or disappear completely in some cases.
5. In the summer of 2015 Nick Boles MP announced that he wanted ‘fewer, larger, more effective and resilient’ FE colleges through a series of Area Reviews, basically meaning that so much funding has been taken from the sector, colleges and sixth form centres need to start merging with each other because they can’t afford to stay open. This is the last straw for the FE sector. If you’re as angry as we are, you can get in touch with your MP by visiting www.nus.org.uk/FEunplugged.
6. Last but by no means least is the complete removal of ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) funding whilst there is still a requirement to teach it. Cuts to the budget for 18 year olds ultimately mean colleges will struggle to fund second chances, removing modular assessment in A levels and decoupling AS Levels from A Levels, and introducing a measly minimum wage for apprentices so some companies can exploit government funding and pay their staff a pitiful wage.
Has all of this left you angry over the government’s relentless attempts to pull the plug on Further Education? Don’t let them - join our #FEunplugged campaign today!