College staff to stage protests over funding cuts that will ‘decimate’ adult education in Wales
Members of the University and College Union at Coleg y Cymoedd will, on Tuesday 17th November, protest at the gates of the building over savage funding cuts to adult education in Wales which were implemented this year, with the strong likelihood of more cuts in the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget to be released in December.
These cuts severely reduce the opportunities available for adults, many of whom are ‘second chance’ learners returning to education later on in their lives to improve their job prospects.
At Coleg Y Cymoedd this academic year, an unprecedented 8.22% reduction in funding was implemented. Across Wales 50% of part-time adult education has been slashed. This has affected approximately 800 jobs across Wales at the end of last academic year, and at Cymoedd, significant Voluntary Redundancies occurred. In terms of provision, all part time Access to Higher Education courses have been axed and some courses, like Counselling, are being offered at full cost recovery. This will severely reduce the ability for learners to improve their skills and life chances, and is ultimately a barrier to lifelong learning.
UCU members will be joined by colleagues from other unions and learners in a protest outside the gates of Rhondda Campus, Ystrad Mynach Campus, Nantgarw Campus and Aberdare Campus; 12.00-1.00PM.
The union sees these protests as part of a campaign to persuade the Welsh Government to change its mind about the level of cuts in funding being made to FE before the Welsh Assembly elections.
UCU Coleg Y Cymoedd Branch Chair, Clare Gibbs, said: ‘Attacking adult education is misguided morally and economically. Any government, whether in Cardiff or Westminster should be ashamed of writing off a section of society because they didn’t succeed at 18. To deny adult learners the opportunity to reskill and upskill in a period of austerity and economic uncertainty is absurd. We urge Welsh Government to fund FE properly and halt the destruction of second chance education.”
The Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, Judith Evans, said: “I support the action being taken by UCU, since 2012 we have seen a reduction in funding of over 15%, this has impacted on the provision that we can offer our communities. Whilst we appreciate the Welsh Government’s budget position, it is important that FE is recognised as providing skilled individuals that contribute to the needs of the economy. The geographical area that we serve have many deprived wards, the majority of these adults are unable to pay for their learning and are being hit the hardest. We will continue to work with the WG and continue to explore other income streams but this is extremely challenging.”