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Lecturers union fears end of an era at Coleg Harlech

28 April 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU has today warned of the end of an era at Coleg Harlech after the decision by the assembly government to back the recommendations of a controversial report.

The union fears that the decision by education minister Leighton Andrews to agree to recommendations to veto plans to fund a new residential accommodation and campus and to end a cross-border subsidy agreement will jeopardise Wales' only residential based learning for vulnerable adults.

The recommendations are contained in a report authored by the former Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) regional secretary Jim Hancock.
 
The college, established in 1927 by the Deputy Secretary to the cabinets of Lloyd George and Stanley Baldwin, provides education opportunities to adults that missed out on education the first time around.  It offers unique residential learning for students, including for ex-offenders and former drug addicts.
 
Craig Lewis, UCU National Executive Committee member for adult education said: 'Coleg Harlech is unique. It is the only facility of its kind in Wales and it is a beacon of liberal education in Wales that stretches back over eighty years.

'The college is an icon in a great Welsh tradition of progressive education policy. Backing the recommendations of the Hancock report is short-sighted and fails to recognise the huge potential of Coleg Harlech.
 
'What makes Coleg Harlech so unique is the residential provision it offers. For the most vulnerable learners, including ex-offenders, people with mental health conditions and drug addicts that have kicked their habits, this is vital.  It places them in a safe, supportive environment where they can learn and where they can begin to turn their lives around.

'Without investment in a new campus the distinctive provision of the college could be put at risk. If this happens Wales will have lost something very special. The whole country will be poorer.
 
'Unlike the Harlech report, we aren't naïve enough to believe that other providers will pick up the pieces.  In the current financial climate they will simply be left out in the cold. They will find the door of opportunity slammed firmly in their place.

'Unless a way forward can be found we fear for the long-term future of Coleg Harlech.'
 
The 'Hancock Report' was published in February 2010 and was commissioned by the assembly government. In a written statement to AMs, education minister Leighton Andrews accepted the recommendations of the report. This means that the there will be no funding made available to replace the existing residential accommodation, which is scheduled for demolition in 2012. It will also mean the end of the cross-border bursary scheme.
 
In 2001, Coleg Harlech merged with the Workers Educational Association (North Wales).

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