Plan to cut college funding will hit students most in need

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From: Jade Kiddy, President, Selby College Students’ Union, Selby College, Abbot’s Road, Selby.

SELBY College Students’ Union represents our student community at our college in North Yorkshire and we want to raise our concerns over the Government’s intention to cut college funding for 18-year-
olds.

Our concern is that this decision has been made for purely financial reasons following 
the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Selby College has been rated by Ofsted as outstanding in all areas. Our students feel extremely lucky to have a college with an excellent educational structure and one which offers valuable and extensive support to all students.

Our worry is that if this proposed funding cut comes into effect we know other local young people will not be nearly so lucky.

Some of our members certainly need the full three years in further education, especially if they haven’t done very well in their exams at school.

Yet, from a Government that boasts about the value it places on keeping 16- to 18-year-olds in education, we find it amazing it then seems so willing to turn its back on those who, for a variety of different reasons, need a greater level of support.

Irrespective of the need to cut public funding, surely the Government must be aware that there are many young people who face considerable difficulties at the ages of 16 to 18 who, through no fault of their own, are unable to continue in education when they reach the statutory school leaving age?

The Government’s decision to withdraw the Connexions service in Selby hasn’t helped. Many young people are now given limited advice and little direction as to the options open to them prior to leaving school, which ultimately affects their chances of finding the right route at 16.

This perhaps increases their chances of needing to change their course after their first year, meaning they have to stay on 
at college for a third year, 
taking them beyond their 18th birthday.

Our students have expressed concerns that when faced with steep fees, they may not choose to complete the course, thus failing to achieve a further education qualification.

Our college alone sends hundreds of trained young people into the workforce every year plus dozens of apprentices into high-value careers such as engineering and construction. As our Principal said: “We are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

We understand these cuts alone will reduce the college income by over £100,000 next year,.

We think it is about time the Government recognised the wealth of support further education colleges continue to provide.

It is no wonder 
people teaching at colleges feel increasingly over-worked, underpaid and undervalued.

Is the Government so out of touch with society as not to understand that young people need to be given chances in life, irrespective of whether they have passed or reached their 18th birthday?

We ask that the Government urgently reconsider this ridiculous proposal.