Colleges fear jobs at risk as places cut

March 2, 2007

Small institutions want compensation for reduction in places for teacher and nurse training. Tony Tysome reports.

Jobs in specialist higher education colleges could be under threat unless lost teacher training and nursing places are replaced, college heads have warned.

GuildHE, the umbrella body that represents 29 colleges, says the stability of small institutions is at risk unless they are compensated for recent cutbacks by the Training and Development Agency and by strategic health authorities.

In its submission to the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review, GuildHE says the cuts have "impacted on the capacity of our higher education institutions to engage in flexible, transformative programmes that will modernise teaching in schools and in health work".

The submission continues: "As lost numbers are not being compensated for by additional places, these reductions threaten the stability of smaller institutions at a time when many of them are experiencing dramatic increases in demand. Failing to meet this demand impacts negatively on widening access."

Pamela Taylor, GuildHE chair and principal of Newman College in Birmingham, said that additional funded student numbers announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England this week would only partially address the problem.

She said: "We would argue that the numbers cut back by the TDA and the National Health Service is money that is being lost from the sector for which we have not been compensated.

"What it will mean is that institutions affected will not be able to capitalise on any potential growth because they are having to start by filling a gap."

Some colleges may be forced to "engage in provision that is more short-term and riskier", potentially putting jobs in jeopardy, she warned. "We do not want to suffer any job losses. But some institutions may have to make difficult choices unless the Government agrees to fully fund additional numbers."

Overall, the GuildHE submission calls for an extra £3.3 billion to be invested in higher education over the next three years.

This includes raising the funding council premium paid for widening-participation students to 30 per cent from the current 10 per cent at an estimated cost of £147 million, boosting the premium for part-time students by £113 million a year, and investing an additional £500 million a year to improve teaching facilities.

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