New City College closes campuses to protest in Westminster
- Credit: Archant
New City College closed its six campuses for a day to take part in a march in Westminster.
The college, which has campuses in Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Hackney and Epping Forest, was taking part in the Love Our Colleges campaign, which is calling for more funding for colleges.
Students, staff and principal, Gerry McDonald, attended the protest, along with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner.
An open letter, signed by Mr McDonald and chair of governors, Meena Chavda, said: “For one day, we have stopped. We’ve closed our classrooms and put teaching on hold.
“Colleges in England train and educate a million young people and two million adults a year. They are the next generation of plumbers, electricians, early years practitioners and health professionals.
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“New City College does all this and more in the colleges we serve. But we can’t go on doing all this without fair funding.”
Unions estimate that 3,000 people attended the march, which demanded the government increase funding to “sustainable levels”. This means increasing the funding for 16 to 19-year-olds by five per cent a year for the next five years, and extending the pupil premium, for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, to students aged 16 and over.
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Colleges also want a fully-funded retraining scheme for adults, and ringfenced funding for staff pay from 2018/19 onwards.
The Love Our Colleges campaign, which has been organised by the University and College Union, claims that college funding has been cut by nearly 30 per cent since 2009.
This has led to a reduction in teaching resources available, fewer adults in learning, and restricted course choice.
The government’s apprentice and skills minister, Anne Milton, said: “I am very aware of the funding pressures in further education which is why we are conducting an assessment of education, funding and the sustainability of the sector.
“This government plans to invest nearly £7 billion this academic year to make sure there is a place in education or training, including apprenticeships, for every 16 to 19-year-old and we have protected the base rate of funding for 16 to 19-year-olds until 2020.”