FE for Everyone - joint unions

College staff to stage protests over 50% funding cuts that will 'decimate' adult education in Wales

21 April 2015 | last updated: 18 April 2016

Members of further education trade unions across Wales will tomorrow protest at the gates of their campus buildings over proposed 50% funding cuts to adult education in Wales next year. These cuts are on top of an 'efficiency' cut of 2.6% to college budgets due to take effect next year.

The cuts, announced for the academic year beginning in September, will severely reduce the opportunities available for adults, many of whom are 'second chance' learners returning to education later on in their lives to improve their job prospects. 

As well as cutting course provision, Colleges are reducing the number of staff to meet the hole in the budgets following the Welsh government's announcement.

There will be an average 6.14% budget cut at Wales's 15 colleges between 2014/15 and 2015/16 but that smaller percentage masks the much more savage cut to courses for those over 19 years of age, which will bear the brunt of savings in favour of other priorities - courses for 16-19 year-olds.

Margaret Phelan, on behalf UCU said:

'These cuts will lead to significant course closures and job losses, and the door being closed for many in our community that rely on adult education.  There are many thousands of people in highly skilled jobs who were only given that chance by being able to access Adult Education, myself included.  Where will those same people in the future turn for their chance, for their opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families?'

Simon Dunn, on behalf of UNITE said:

'These savage cuts will significantly reduce the number of adults able to return to learn or retrain at a time when most people agree that education, skills and retraining should be a priority.  Adult learning has long been a passport to raise aspirations, transform lives and achieve potential, and is a stepping stone for many into Higher Education.  These cuts will impact on learners, employees and their families for years to come'.

Mererid Lewis Davies, on behalf of UCAC said:

'The opportunity to access adult education provides a crucial pathway to a better future and it helps to tackle issues of poverty within our communities. If the Welsh Government is serious about tackling the effects of poverty and disadvantage on our children and young people it will not deny their parents the hope of a better future through education'.

Hilary Mason, on behalf of AMiE said:

'Senior leaders and managers in FE are dismayed at the scale of the cuts. They will devastate provision for some of the most vulnerable learners in our communities. We hope there will be a change of heart before it is too late'.

Robert Goddard, on behalf of ATL said:

'FE is reeling from these huge cuts to funding. We are losing expertise from the workforce that will be irreplaceable. We should be investing in young peoples' futures not penalising them for being over 19. It is ridiculous for the Welsh Government to say that they won't impact on 16-19 provision in FE and schools'.

Union members will be joined by colleagues from the National Union of Students in a protest outside the gates of all FE colleges across Wales.

The joint trade unions sees these protests as the start of a campaign to persuade the Welsh government to change its mind about the level of cuts in funding being made available for post-19 education in the academic year 2015/16.