Unions and colleges to march on parliament to lobby for fair FE funding

Unions, college principals and staff will join forces on October 17 in a nationally coordinated lobby of MPs and parliament to call for fair funding for colleges.

The day, which is being run as part of the Association of Colleges upcoming “week of action”, has the backing of the National Union of Students as well as the Universities and Colleges Union.

Emily Chapman, the NUS’ vice president for FE, tweeted yesterday to announce the partnership and encourage all college students’ unions to “have a conversation with your principal about funding your attendance at this crucial day”.

She added that there will be “all sorts of opportunities to get involved besides the lobby”, including local action on campuses, as well as a FEstival on October 16, where the “theme will be around FE funding and campaigning”.

The week of action, taking place between October 15 and 19, follows the Department for Education’s decision to fund a 3.5 per cent pay rise for school teachers while ignoring college lecturers – an announcement which left AoC boss David Hughes “angry” and “frustrated”.

He pledged after this decision to switch from 10 years of “politely” highlighting the impact of funding cuts to making “a lot more noise”.

The AoC is still deciding exactly what action will be taken during that week, but Ms Chapman’s tweets offered an insight into what is planned.

“For eight years, we have seen cut after cut, putting FE staff under increased pressure,” she said.

“FE has always been a special place where students can grow and release their potential, yet we have seen our education becoming more about the qualification expense crucial aspects of FE.

“Throughout my time as VP (Further Education), I have been known for my hashtags #myFEjourney and #FEisheretostay. I’m not one to shy away from the fight. Which is why I am proud to announce that we are partnering with @AoC_info and @ucu on a Week of Action for FE Funding.

“As part of this week, NUS is asking for two key things: fair pay for staff, and fair funding for colleges. Together, as a movement, we can show that a strong learner voice can make the difference when it comes to bringing about positive change in FE.

“Crucially on Wednesday 17 October, we will be heading to Parliament to lobby our MPs in a nationally coordinated lobby of Parliament, alongside college principals and staff.

“But that’s not all. There will be all sorts of opportunities to get involved besides the lobby, including local action on your campuses. Alongside this, on Tuesday 16th October, we will be hosting FEstival, where the theme will be around FE Funding and Campaigning.”

She added: “It’s time for FE to stop surviving and start thriving! It’s time for FE Voices to be heard, and show how our SUs and voices need investment for our futures. @AoC_info @ucu #FEisHeretostay Save the date!”