Socialist Party
| Print

30 June 2009

National fight to defend education

Crisis looms in FE colleges

FURTHER EDUCATION (FE) colleges across the country are facing a major crisis over the next months and years. Government funding is changing and potentially huge cuts are looming. Cuts are falling right at the end of this term in most colleges. Every cut this year must be fought, but they are just a taster of what is looming next year.

Paula Mitchell

Even before this cuts crisis, funding through the Learning and Skills Council is always uncertain, meaning that colleges and staff cannot properly plan, and then face last-minute cuts. Mismanagement in many colleges has compounded the problem and meant even further cuts.

Some colleges face massive cuts this year. In Tower Hamlets, 40 full-time equivalent posts are to go, which could mean as many as 90 people losing their jobs. The cuts fall most heavily in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) department, in a part of London with a diverse community and many people for whom English is not their home language. Yet, the college's management is to be increased by 15 and the principal earns around 160,000 a year.


The national rebuilding programme has been a fiasco. Urged on by the Learning and Skills Council, colleges everywhere made plans for new buildings, spending money on consultants and new designs. Hopes were raised of new facilities and resources.

But the reality has been a shambles. New buildings have proved too small for the job and without basic facilities such as staffrooms.

Even before most of the new building was underway, the plug has been pulled on the entire project. This leaves colleges having wasted huge amounts of money on planning. Some colleges had even knocked down old buildings, and are now housed in portable cabins with no prospect of a new building.

There may also need to be a fight on the pay award. College staff cannot allow managers to say 'choose job cuts or pay cuts'. The lesson from industry is that that does not work. In JCB, LDV and Visteon, and elsewhere workers agreed to concessions in the hope of saving the factories but the bosses still shut them down and made massive job cuts.

However, another lesson from industry is that a united fight of the workers can win. At the Lindsey oil refinery construction workers have won a second tremendous victory against the attempts by bosses to undermine trade union pay and conditions and victimise activists. Unofficial solidarity action spread across the country and swept aside the anti-trade union laws.

Staff and students cannot be left to fight on a college-by-college basis. On Friday 3 July, Hackney and Tower Hamlets colleges will be on strike, and the London region UCU has called on all FE colleges to hold lunch-time protests on this day.

This approach of action across London should be carried on over the summer to prepare for a united national fight in the autumn.

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube


triangle13 Jun No to Trump and Tory racism

triangle13 Jun Civil service pay strike ballot: vote yes!

triangle13 Jun How can we fight for trade unions that fight for women?

triangle13 Jun Health unions accept divisive NHS pay deal - but fightback could have...

triangle13 Jun Build an anti-racist workers' movement

triangle13 Jun Grenfell: still waiting for justice

triangle9 Jun PCS members in DWP say: Pay up now!

More ...


triangle19 Jun Manchester Socialist Party: Trotskyism & the Transitional Programme

triangle20 Jun Caerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: After the Italian elections - Which way for Italy?

triangle20 Jun Cardiff Central Socialist Party: What is fascism and is it a threat today?

triangle20 Jun Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: The 1000th issue of the Socialist


Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551


What we Stand For

About the Socialist Party

Our 2015 election manifesto

Joining the Socialist Party - what will it mean for you


Alphabetical listing

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018