At the onset of their second term, the Government outlined their plans for adult further education. Excluding funding for apprenticeships, the budget for 2015/16 will be cut by 24%. What that means is a 24% reduction in the funding for adults who want a second chance or who want to gain a better education later in life. Over the last five years adult education has seen nearly a 50% cut to funding.
The University and College Union (UCU) has estimated that this cut could lead to a loss of 400,000 college students. By 2020, if the next Government continues to cut at this rate, adult further education will be effectively a thing of the past.
The scale of the funding deficit is colossal: Lewisham and Southwark College face 200 job cuts and the closure of the Camberwell site.
One document proposes scaling down from around 46 to 10 London colleges, grouped in federations or mergers.
Across the country teachers and support workers in Further Education are facing a wave of S188 notices (notice of redundancy), which could result in 11 FE colleges and London Metropolitan University being on strike on the 23rd June, with a second day of nationally coordinated strike action on the 30th June, including colleges in Wales, Yorkshire and Humberside.
The opportunity to learn, to better oneself through education, is surely a right for everyone, no matter how old they are. What’s particularly worrying is that these cuts are taking place almost unnoticed. If the same level of cuts were applied to primary or secondary education the nation would be in an uproar, but for anyone over the age of 19 who wants the education they didn’t get at school or who wants a second chance in life, the future looks very bleak.