ONE hundred part-time student places could leave Gwent and 40 jobs be at risk if cuts proposed by the University of South Wales go ahead this year.
An internal consultation document describes how funding for the university’s Centre for Community Learning (CCL) has been squeezed and, in some areas, withdrawn.
The centre, set up to encourage people to get into higher education by studying courses a bit at a time, has seen cuts from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).
Some areas of the centre’s remit, such as a partnership promoting university as an option for all, have already been protected. But community and work-based learning – which offers certificates in higher education, stand alone “bite size” modules and foundation degrees – could be affected by the plans.
Two pots of cash from HEFCW, for widening access and retention, have been cut from £180,259 in 2012/13, to £80,495 in the last academic year, and from £6.48 million in the last academic year to £5.8 million this year respectively.
From 2014/15 part-time students can get funding from the Students Loan Company, says the document, unless they are taking 30 credits or less, such as those studying a single HEFCW-funded “bite size” module.
The numbers of students studying “bite size” and Certificate of Higher Education courses “do not generate sufficient income” and, as a result, the courses outside the University of the Heads of the Valleys Institute region could finish in September.
The university would leave its facilities in Tredegar, set up in the Gwent Shopping Centre under the former Newport University, and withdraws admin support from the Learning Zone, moving people to another location.
The plans, which have been out to consultation for the last fortnight, include axing nine-and-a-half full-time equivalent roles, including finance officers, business lecturers and learning support assistants – but CCL employs 40 staff with 26 potential redundancies.
A university spokeswoman said: “[Our] priority...is to safeguard core provision in widening access work, particularly in the Heads of the Valleys, and the university is consulting privately with staff on potential options.” The results of the consultation are due to go public next month.