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Taking action in higher education

UCU welcomes government review on English language classes

4 January 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU said today that the government's launch of a consultation on arrangements and funding for tuition of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) was a welcome opportunity to rethink present arrangements.

In October 2006 the government announced plans to limit free entitlement to ESOL courses. UCU warned that the unintended consequences of this move would exclude large groups that desperately want and need to study English from participating fully in our society.

UCU believes that the review will allow it the opportunity to show the government the true impact of the restriction of ESOL classes. The union has been collecting evidence from its members who teach ESOL.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU welcomes this fresh look at ESOL. We have been seeking such a review and we shall participate fully.

'We have consistently warned that bringing in fees for ESOL would hit vulnerable people and jeopardise community cohesion. The government, quite rightly, has cited community cohesion as a central plank of building a fairer and more equitable Britain and this review appears intended to take account of that. 

'UCU will examine closely the detail of the proposed review and we shall want to sit down with DIUS, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and other stakeholders to analyse learner figures for last term and the impact of the ESOL funding changes introduced last September.

'The funding must be found to ensure the most needy and vulnerable in society are not further marginalised through an inability to afford to learn to speak the language of this country. The government must also look afresh at ways of making employers pay their share of the language training costs of employees.'