Staff and students at Northampton College have called on the Government to ‘Love Our Colleges’ as part of a national campaign lobbying for fairer funding for Further Education.
The Government has recently committed an extra £400million for the FE sector, but while this windfall has been broadly welcomed, there are concerns it simply doesn’t go far enough and still leaves colleges as the poor relation in the education system, lagging behind schools and universities.
Colleges currently receive £4,000 funding for each 16 to 18-year-old student, while schools receive £5,000 for someone of the same age. The extra funding will push this figure up to £4,188, but falls someway short of the parity the FE sectorcraves.
To raise awareness of the funding shortfall, students at Northampton College have been showcasing the work they do and the opportunities they are given by taking a more vocational route than is provided by mainstream schools.
Deputy principal of Northampton College, Patrick Leavey, said: “The wider FE sector has been subject to a decade of enforced savings and efficiencies, having to cope with a real-terms cut of 30 per cent over the past 10 years.
“With a skills shortage in a number of industrial and commercial sectors affecting the UK economy, FE is finally making a stand and calling for urgent investment from Government. The £400 million pledged so far is a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go far enough.
“For too long colleges have faced the financial challenge of preserving the same high quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms, studios and workshops while not seeing any extra income. With better investment, we would have the ability to do even more to nurture talent in our most in-demand technical and professional skills.”
As part of a week-long series of events to back the official ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign, local schools were invited to Booth Lane for a series of science and space themed taster sessions run by the UK Space Academy.
Students were able to learn more about the science behind rockets, comets and planets during the sessions, which formed part of the college’s ongoing ‘Ignite The Spark’ programme – an initiative to attract the next generation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) professionals.
Mr Leavey added: “The week showcased the great work colleges are involved with on a daily basis, helping to transform the lives of young people and adults, shape their communities and boost the local economy. By providing technical, vocational and higher education, basic skills and lifelong learning, colleges are an essential resource and need to be funded fairly.”
The Love Our Colleges campaign is a partnership between the Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC, and the National Education Union (NEU).