UNISON, UCU and the NUS have called for a National Day of Action to say ‘No!’ to this plan, that would greatly reduce the number of adults able to undertake valuable courses.
The Tory-led coalition Government is planning to remove financial support from adult learners who are studying for the equivalent of A levels.
According to the government’s own impact assessment on the loans plan, ministers expect a 45% drop in the number of over-24-year-olds studying at college when the new system* is introduced in 2013/14 – more than double the number previously estimated.
Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South and Shadow Minister for Further Education, Skills and Regional Growth will be meeting with local UNISON representatives led by Dave Drury at Blackpool and the Fylde College to discuss the potential impact of these proposed changes.**
Theresa Griffin, UNISON North West Lead for Further Education said:
“The CON-DEM Government is mean-spirited and short-sighted in making it harder for adults to undertake valuable courses in Further Education.”
“The Government’s own projections show that this policy will greatly reduce the numbers able to study in FE. That undoubtedly will have a damaging knock-on effect on the viability of courses in FE Colleges and means many people will not be able to get the skills and qualifications they need to find jobs. These proposals will in addition have an adverse effect on more women. The Government should think again.”
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said:
“The minister urgently needs to clarify just how damaging these controversial plans will be. At a time of record levels of unemployment it is simply not acceptable to slash opportunity for 100,000 people.”
“These latest projections are quite staggering and highlight the huge damage further education loans would do to the sector. Colleges simply cannot absorb a 45% cut in student numbers for people aged 24 and over. This would result in course closures, job losses and vastly diminished opportunities for adults and young people who need a second chance in education.”
*At present students in further education pay 50% towards the college tuition with the government contributing 50%. Under the new plans, students over the age of 24 wanting to study A-Level equivalent qualifications and above, will be forced to take out loans to pay for all the costs of their tuition, like students in higher education
** The event takes place at 1pm today at the New University Centre, Blackpool & the Fylde College, Palatine Road, Blackpool. Ian Pattison can arrange interviews.
Theresa Griffin, UNISON North West, 07950 889805, T.Griffin@unison.co.uk.
Ian Pattison. The Office of Gordon Marsden MP, 07814 835 095