Colleges have seen their adult education budgets cut by 24 per cent from this September resulting in job losses and potential course closures.
The University and College Union (UCU) staged a rally today to highlight the issue.
The union has been critical of plans by Leeds City College to cut jobs. However the college’s chief executive and principal Peter Roberts had said that he was happy for staff to take part in the rally as its focus was on the importance of further education and impact of national funding cuts.
Staff from Leeds were joined by UCU members from Bradford College who were on strike yesterday over proposed job cuts there.
Hundreds of campaigners congregated outside Leeds Art Gallery to hear speeches from some of the Bradford strikers, as well as TUC regional secretary Bill Adams and UCU president Liz Lawrence.
The UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Ministers need to understand that without colleges running the variety of courses that they currently do, thousands of people will be left high and dry and the economy will suffer for it. The rally in Leeds was a reminder of the excellent work that staff and students do in colleges across the country. We should be expanding opportunities for people to train, not cutting vital resources.” The Association of Colleges warned last month that the current funding cuts threaten 190,000 places on college courses this year nationally.
A spokesman for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills said it was working closely with colleges and businesses to deliver three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.