Union fears over lecturers’ jobs

Bill Jones
Bill Jones
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MORE than 200 lecturers’ jobs are set to be axed at further education colleges across South Yorkshire as managers struggle to cope with swingeing funding cuts, union leaders have warned.

But the University and College Union fears this is ‘the thin end of the wedge’ as other colleges have yet to announce how they will cope with budget cuts.

Industrial action has hit Barnsley College, where 70 posts are under threat.

Sheffield College has announced plans to cut 121 posts while Rotherham College of Arts and Technology said 46 jobs would need to go.

But Doncaster College believes no large job losses are required to balance its books.

UCU regional official John Giddins said they had identified up to 398 potential job cuts from nine Yorkshire colleges.

He said: “As these job cuts so far come from less than a third of the colleges in Yorkshire I could see the overall number getting toward 1,000 after September when colleges know how many students they have recruited and how this has affected funding.”

College bosses at Barnsley and Sheffield said the majority of cuts had come through voluntary redundancies or redeployment. Rotherham College declined to comment.

Barnsley College principal Colin Booth said it was recruiting staff in other areas and staffing levels would remain ‘about the same’.

Further education colleges face cuts to funding for both 16 to 19-year-olds and adults while around 27,000 adult learners in Yorkshire are set to lose their right to free education from September.

Adult education funding has been hit by a 25 per cent cut over three years. The cuts have left Sheffield College facing a budget reduction of £4 million compared with its income in 2010/11.

College executive director of planning and performance Bill Jones said it would now be charging for courses such as English for speakers of other languages which it had run free for many students.

The sector is also facing a massive cut with the removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance - a payment of up to £30 a week to support students from deprived backgrounds to stay in education.

The £560m fund has been scrapped and replaced with the Learner Support Fund, worth £180m this year.

Mr Jones said: “The fund is meant to guarantee support to the most deprived students and let colleges decide how to award the rest but we fear the level of demand from the most deprived students will take up all our allocation.”

Mr Booth said Barnsley College was receiving £410,000 through the new fund compared with the £2.3 million it got through the EMA.

He said the college was topping up the scheme with more than £200,000 from its own budget.

He said: “We are offering what we consider to be the bare minimum and the money from Government doesn’t cover it.”