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Lobby and petition for further education

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#lovefe, houses of parliament, Caoline lucas, new MPs, stop cuts‘The very existence of adult education is in jeopardy’.

As part of the ‘love further education’ – #lovefe – campaign to save adult education from the proposed 24 per cent cuts to the England lifelong learning budget, a lobby of parliament at Westminster was held on 16 June 2015.

The government’s Skills Funding Agency has estimated that cuts could amount to 24 per cent for non-apprenticeship learning in the 2015-16 year.

So at the lobby, which was organised by the University and College Union (UCU), newly elected MPs were asked to stop the cuts and commit to properly funded lifelong learning.

UCU has estimated that the proposed cuts would lead to around 400,000 learners losing out on opportunities to improve their skills.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, speaking at the #LoveFE lobby in the Houses of Parliament building, said: “The Conservatives are now going ahead with a massive 24 per cent cut to the English adult further education budget for 2015/16, once funding for apprenticeships is excluded.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that the very existence of adult education is in jeopardy. Further cuts could lead to the loss of over 400,000 students places this financial year alone.

“For those of us who Love FE, this is a travesty.”

Lucas’s contribution came as a further education college in her own constituency faces budget cuts. City College in Brighton is facing job losses and courses being axed.

“In common with every single one of the Government’s austerity measures, across the board, it’s the most vulnerable that bear the brunt.

“At City College in my constituency, courses for adults with learning disabilities are at risk,” she said.

“So too are the services provided by the Intensive Support and Learning Support departments.

“Both are a vital element in fulfilling the College’s safeguarding duties. We cannot let them be removed.

“It’s also the staff at City College who are losing out – teaching and non-teaching. And I want to thank UCU for their campaign to protect City College and other colleges like it.”

UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘For too long, further education has been underfunded and underappreciated.

“The support for the campaign from across the sector and beyond is testament to how valuable adult learning is for people from all sorts of backgrounds.

‘MPs now need to listen to the concerns of those working and studying in further education and take action to protect the future of the sector.

“We should,” she pointed out, “be expanding opportunities for people to retrain, not cutting vital resources.”

UCU represents more than 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations throughout the UK.

You can follow events and show your support for the campaign here.

Please sign and circulate the petition. Thanks.

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