Blog: We’re demanding that the government stand up for further education

Our Further Education system is one of our nation’s greatest resources. Year after year, colleges provide incredible support to our communities. From top-class technical education to basic skills and lifelong learning, colleges help people of all ages and backgrounds to make the most of their talents and ambitions.

Colleges matter – yet these incredible institutions, and the amazing public service workers who work in them, aren’t getting the support they need to thrive. Quite the opposite. Their funding has been slashed by 30% over the past decade and staff in further education have seen the value of staff pay fall by a quarter.

All of which means less support, with an inevitable and negative impact on further education students, and on society as a whole.

That’s why UNISON is joining with other education unions, students and colleges to demand a better deal for colleges – with fair funding and fair pay.

We’re calling on the government to:

  • Increase college funding to sustainable levels, including but not limited to:
    • Increasing the 16-19 funding rate by 5% a year for the next 5 years, and extending the pupil premium to cover post-16 students.
    • Fully funding a National Retraining Scheme to support level 3 to 5 skills.
    • Introducing a lifetime learning entitlement to fund skills training for all adults who have not previously achieved a level 3 qualification.
  • Provide immediate exceptional funding, ring-fenced for pay, to cover the costs of a fair pay deal for college staff from 2018/19 onwards.

Further education colleges play a vital role in the fabric of our local communities. They are one of the key building blocks of our education system, yet they are being chipped away by a government who profess to care about education and yet underfund and cut it every chance they get.

This week, UNISON will work with those from across the FE sector. We’ll show that we #loveourcolleges. We’ll demand that the government stand up for further education. And we’ll be active across the country – and in Parliament – to demand a better deal for everyone who works in and relies on our colleges.