Coleg Gwent "disappointed" by further education cuts
4:01pm Saturday 31st August 2013 in News
Coleg Gwent, the largest further education college in Wales, has said recent funding cuts could cause “great damage” to employers as well as hindering economic recovery.
Further Education budgets for the coming academic year were unexpectedly cut by 1.5 per cent, with institutions warned to brace for potentially deeper cuts in the year 2014/2015.
Principal of Coleg Gwent Jim Bennett said: “We are very disappointed in the decision to reduce funding in the coming academic year by 1.5 per cent. We had planned for a 1 per cent increase, and the late decision has meant that we’ve had to revise our plans and budgets to make ends meet. Repairs and maintenance, staff training and marketing have all had to be significantly reduced.
“While we can currently limit the impact on learners, we can’t sustain this long term and have been told to expect much deeper cuts. If that happens, it will inevitably do great damage to skills and training for employers and will do nothing to help the recovery of the Welsh economy. Education and training for young people will also be affected as their funding is also being cut for next year. There will have to be a reduction in the number of people that we help and that will mean damage to the economy and an increase in young people not engaged in education, employment or training.”
He added: “These cuts will actually cost more than they save, and we will campaign against them as vigorously as we can.”
With five campuses across Gwent and around 29,000 students, these changes will affect many youngsters, as well as those at other colleges.
The level of further cuts for 2014/15 will become clearer when the Welsh Government publishes its draft budget in the autumn, but institutions are readying for possible cuts of five per cent or more.
John Graystone, chief executive of Colegau Cymru the body that represents FE colleges in Wales, said of this year’s budget cuts: “We had hints that there may be difficulties, but it was quite short notice.”
He added that cuts to funding “may bring a short term benefit, but at a long term cost. We estimate further education brings £3.8 billion to the Welsh economy.
“The budget hasn’t been agreed yet for 2014/15. We’re going to work closely with the Welsh Government to see if the investment can be maintained. Obviously, we would like to government to continue to invest as it has done in Further Education.”
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