Further education cuts ‘will ruin the lives of young people’ warns Warwickshire College lecturer

Warwick town councillor and Warwickshire College lecturer John Sullivain.
Warwick town councillor and Warwickshire College lecturer John Sullivain.

Crime and drugs may be the future for many 18-year-olds in Warwickshire, thanks to Government cuts to further education funding, says a Warwick lecturer.

Warwick town councillor John Sullivain, who works as an engineering lecturer at Warwickshire College and is also the Warwickshire branch chairman of the University and College Union (UCU), has written to Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White to invite him to oppose the 17.5 per cent reduction in funding for the full-time education of 18-year-olds. But he has so far had no reply.

The cut, announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last year, will come into force this year as the Government’s Education Funding Agency plans to save £150 million. It comes at the same time that education up to the age of 18 becomes compulsory.

Cllr Sullivain said: “The cuts will impact on the way the college functions, which will mean an impact on students.

“Colleges were historically made for people to have a second chance.”

Cllr Sullivain expects that colleges may be forced to introduce fees for 18-year-olds, meaning many will no longer be able to go to college. He said: “We need to pick up the kids who schools don’t want. Without the opportunity for them to come here, the odds are that they will get involved in crime or drugs.

“If you can get youngsters who have not achieved at school to come into a system they like, they become full members of society with jobs and fulfilling lives.”

In his letter to Mr White, Cllr Sullivain writes: “These cuts will only assist in dividing the nation and will ruin the lives of young people.

“It is a short-sighted view that will increase crime and deviance, create unemployement and force people to rely on state handouts. In the long term, it will cost the Government more money.

“I would be grateful if you would confirm your opposition to these cuts at just the time when they need funding most and to request that you ask the Government to reconsider its plans.”

John Rees, deputy principal at Warwickshire College, said there are no plans to introduce fees for 18-year-olds “in the foreseeable future”. But he added: “We will continue to lobby the Government about the impact these cuts would have on our ability to deliver the education and training our region needs for long-term growth.”

The UCU has received 103 signatures from MPs on a petition against the cut. Mr White has not signed it.

Mr White told the Courier: “I share the concern, but we do need to make savings. The planned reduction was selected as the option with the least negative consequences. We are making sure that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and with special educational needs are supported.”