Further and adult education under attack - we need to take action ahead of the general election
On 26 February, the government announced cuts in adult further education of 24% in 2015-16.
This is on top of the 32% real terms cut to the adult skills budget since 2010.
These cuts are a further blow to colleges who have already lost around one million learners. UNISON estimates that the cuts could lead to a loss of more than 400,000 college students in 2015/16 alone.
These cuts will:
· Reduce the number of adults returning to learn or to retrain at a time when most people agree that education, skills and retraining should be a priority.
· Place colleges under severe financial pressure, leading to course or possibly institutional closures and redundancies.
· Affect vulnerable learners most severely, as more flexible courses are axed in favour of apprenticeships.
· Affect higher level courses as fewer students will be able to access learning which acts as a 'stepping stone'.
What you can do
Please use your networks to circulate the petition and information about the cuts. Further education provides people with a springboard to improve their education and skills, and cuts of this size will shut the door to those who need FE the most.
Adult learning has long been a passport to raise aspirations transform, lives and achieve potential. We need to make this an election issue. Already we are receiving information about cuts and planned redundancies.
UNISON is working with other trade unions and key stakeholders including the Association of Colleges on a campaign to challenge this. Information on the campaign can be found at the Campaign blog.
Please sign the petition here and forward this to your friends, family and colleagues. There are already 20,000 signatures.
We also encourage branches and members to make contact with MPs and prospective MPs about the issue.
Contact parliamentary election candidates about the funding cuts using our online tool
Already 39 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling to stop the cuts.