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New report exposes 'staffing crisis' in English colleges

30 March 2023

Further education colleges face an unprecedented staffing crisis because of devastatingly low pay, said UCU.

The union was responding to a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies that shows a steep real terms fall in college teacher pay and major staffing issues, with around half of college teachers leaving the profession within three years of starting teaching.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The staffing crisis in our colleges is real and has been driven by over a decade of austerity which has held down pay and cut college resources. The sad reality, though, is that the pay cut faced by college teachers is higher than the 18% cited by the IFS, with most colleges refusing to implement pay recommendations made by the employer body. In this scenario, staff are denied binding national bargaining agreements and failed by local college employers who refuse to properly uplift pay or address shocking workloads. 

'To turn the sector around there needs to be sustained investment in staff to make sure colleges improve recruitment and retention. Last year's national funding increase for 16-19 year olds was welcome, as was the reclassification of further education as part of the public sector. The task must now be to put the sector onto a more stable footing, ensuring it puts students and staff first. 

'Around 4,000 college staff have taken strike action over the past six months, and further industrial unrest is on the cards unless employers raise pay, lower workloads, and agree to enter into binding national bargaining agreements.' 

Last updated: 5 May 2023