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Mass protest lobby of MPs planned by lecturers over education cuts

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 October 2015

Previous protest at Tower Hamlets over English language cuts

Previous protest at Tower Hamlets over English language cuts

oliviaharris@mac.com

Lessons are being disrupted today by a walk-out of lecturers and students at colleges across London to lobby MPs at Westminster over education cuts.

Tower Hamlets CollegeTower Hamlets College

Even college principals like Gerry McDonald at Tower Hamlets College at Poplar and Stepney in east London are involved in the mass lobby as part of an ongoing campaign to prevent courses in ‘English as a Second Language’ being dropped through the government blocking funds.

Tower Hamlets and Hackney Community College in nearby Shoreditch are among campuses all over Greater London which face having to axe English courses for asylum seekers and other migrants in the New Year.

“We’re gearing up to fight our redundancies,” one college lecturer told the East London Advertiser. “The cuts are badly damaging education.”

It is the second time lecturers have walked out in two months to lobby MPs, following their first mass demonstration in the summer.

Tower Hamlets College Principal Gerry McDonaldTower Hamlets College Principal Gerry McDonald

Tower Hamlets College has already been hit by cuts totalling £1.2 million, followed by more cuts that came in July that came out of the blue.

Principal Gerry McDonald said at the time: “Our budget was reduced by 14 per cent last year, then we had a further sudden and unexpected cut—another four per cent for the current year.

“The government is being short-sighted not investing in young people and their future.”

Funding for courses for foreign language speakers was stopped in July, resulting in many lecturers being made redundant.

Now with more cuts, the courses are not guaranteed to run after Christmas.

The lecturers’ union UCU’s general secretary Sally Hunt said: “It’s perverse to make such an enormous cut at a time when we’re expecting more migrants.

“Refugees, asylum-seekers and others want a better chance of getting work and taking part in British society.”

The protesting lecturers and students meet at 12 noon today in Parliament Square, with a two-hour lobby meeting starting 1pm in Committee Room 10. Speakers include Gerry McDonald, UCU’s president Liz Lawrence and Shadow State Secretary for International Development Diane Abbott whose constituency takes in half of Hackney.

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