College ditches offshoring plans after UNISON protest

UNISON, The UK’s largest union, welcomed news that City College Norwich has ditched its plans to offshore administrative work to India. The union went public with the story last month, urging the college to put a stop to its disruptive proposals.

The union is calling on the government to make sure that other colleges cannot fund offshoring projects – saying that at a time of severe public spending and job cuts, taxpayers’ money should be spent on saving jobs and providing services in the UK, rather than exploiting cheap labour abroad.

Jon Richards, UNISON head of education, said: “It is a huge relief that City College has ditched its damaging offshoring plans. It is the right decision for students and staff.

“It seems straight common sense that at a time of heavy public spending cuts, taxpayers’ money should be spent in local communities, rather than on exploiting cheap labour abroad. The government has to take action to make sure other colleges cannot misuse taxpayers’ money in a similar way.”

Jonathan Dunning, UNISON branch secretary, said: “We’re really pleased that the college has seen the light and put a stop to its damaging plans. We hear that the project has not gone well at all – the college even had to send a member of staff to Chennai to try and sort the problems out.

“The college claimed that the plans would not lead to job losses initially, but could not confirm that jobs would not be lost later on down the line. With Norwich struggling to recover from the recession, any job lost is a huge loss to our local community and its economy.”

The offshoring of administrative work was being funded through a grant given to the college by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, administered by the Skills Funding Agency (FE funding and regulatory body).

The college approached a large company, QuScient, which services offshoring contracts from American colleges and universities. The applications process alone cost the college £8,000.

The contract would have covered inputing of student applications. The work is usually done by college administrators who have years of experience of handling the whole process, from application to sorting interviews and making offers to students.