UCU has today responded to analysis of adult education budgets published by the House of Commons library that suggests a third of further education colleges could be under threat.
The UK’s largest trade union and professional association for academic-related staff working in further and higher education, said further government cuts could be the final nail in many courses and would shut the door on many learners who use adult education as a springboard for improving their skills.
On the area reviews in further education the union stated that there is a danger that they could lead to a narrower curriculum and leave many students high and dry if their aspirations don’t match local economic priorities.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The current cuts to adult education budgets are a devastating blow to colleges and will change the face of further education in many parts of the country. Funding for adult skills has already fallen 35 per cent since 2009, and the latest reductions could be the final nail in the coffin for some courses. Not everyone needs or wants to study an apprenticeship, but colleges are being forced to prioritise apprenticeships over other kinds of learning.
According to the calculations this could mean the closure of 80 FE colleges and 56 sixth-form colleges — a total of 136 or 40 per cent of the 335 colleges, says the party. As college budgets are not protected, they are more vulnerable to huge funding cuts in George Osborne’s 2015 Spending Review, says Labour.