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Taking action in higher education

Newcastle College head accused of 'de-Geordification'

12 July 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU today accused the head of Newcastle College, Jackie Fisher, of 'de-Geordification', after staff were told that Newcastle College Group is to be rebranded to remove any reference to Newcastle.

In an extraordinary e-mail* to staff at the college, astonished teachers and lecturers were ordered to stop using 'Newcastle' in communications and to refer only to NCG.

The news comes as Newcastle College Group is diverting resources away from the north-east to fund its national for-profit company Intraining, which has just won contracts to run services in the West Midlands, north-east Yorkshire and the Humber.

Newcastle College Group's 2009-10 accounts show that the group made a loan of £9,782,000 to Intraining, which in 2009 had short-term liabilities of £35m, including owing £20m to Newcastle College Group.

The union described the rebranding efforts as the latest gaffe in a long list of errors from the college, which plans to make 170 staff redundant and cut lecturers' pay by as much as £11,000 a year. In March, it was revealed that Jackie Fisher had pocketed a pay rise of 32%, making her £259,772 salary the highest paid to any college principal in England.

UCU said the cuts to teaching at the college would make it much harder to provide training for people in the region, which has already seen a large increase in unemployment.

Proud Geordies Ant and Dec and X Factor winner Joe McElderry are among the famous alumni of Newcastle College.

UCU regional official, Iain Owens, said: 'This cynical exercise in rebranding says a great deal about Jackie Fisher's vision for the college and looks like a deliberate attempt to try and de-Geordify Newcastle College Group. There is nothing wrong in wanting to expand provision elsewhere, but the college's first and foremost duty is to this region.

'Newcastle College Group should be proud to have Newcastle in its name, not treating it like some kind of dirty word. Worryingly, this is just the latest gaffe in a long list of errors by the college.'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The north-east has been one the regions hit hardest during the recession and Newcastle College has a duty to provide training opportunities for people in the local community, rather than looking to divert resources to its for-profit arm.'

Notes

*A copy of the email sent to staff can be seen below:

'As you are aware, we have rebranded Newcastle College Group as NCG. It is important to remove any reference to Newcastle College Group from any materials or communications, as Newcastle College Group does not exist as a brand or trading name. Please ensure that all communication written and verbal does not refer to NCG as Newcastle College Group. If you are in any doubt, please contact the Group Marketing and Communications team.'

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