Autumn 2019 HE ballots, vote yes yes yes yes

HE ballots: request a replacement

Support colleagues fighting back in FE!

UCU questions FE funding strategy that leads to course closures for students with disabilities

20 June 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

The head of equality and employment rights at UCU has questioned the new government funding policy for further education on the grounds that it is damaging educational opportunities for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

Roger Kline will tomorrow (21 June) visit Gateshead College where nearly all courses for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities face eventual closure.

Gateshead College has announced the course closures and up to 39 redundancies as a result of funding cuts arising from the new government spending priorities for further education. Colleges must now target their funding at 16-19-year-olds, adults taking basic skills and adults taking Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) courses for the first time. As a result, a broad range of other courses across the country are under threat.

At Gateshead, members of UCU, outraged by the cuts to courses for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and by the way the college has handled the redundancies, voted to take action-short-of-a-strike and are now operating a working-to-contract policy.

Some of the college's courses due to be cut have had a temporary reprieve after the local authority came up with some funding for the academic year of 2006/7 but after that, they face closure.

Roger Kline, UCU head of equality and employment rights, said: 'It is becoming increasingly clear that the new government funding priorities for further education are having a disproportionate impact on some of the most vulnerable sections of the community including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, as is the case at Gateshead College.

'I question if there has been any audit of the effects of this new national policy on students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

'I also question if the government or the LSC are obliging colleges to cut courses for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to pre-empt new and more stringent legislation on disabilities that is coming into effect this autumn.'

Other colleges in the north-east that have announced redundancies partly due to the government's new funding strategy include:

  • Northumberland College (up to 50 jobs), where the UCU branch is in its fifth week of taking selective strike action.
  • Hartlepool College (up to 12 jobs)
  • East Durham College (up to 7 jobs)
  • Derwentside College (up to 3 jobs)

Comments