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FE to lobby Westminster


Principals, lecturers and staff from across England will converge on Westminster later this month to lobby for appropriate funding for colleges and their four million students. The lobby is being jointly organised by all the main organisations representing students, staff and colleges in England: the Association of Colleges, the National Union of Students and all the recognised Trade Unions, including National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), Association of College Managers (ACM), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), GMB, Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and UNISON.

It will take place on Tuesday 23 April 2002, as Chancellor Gordon Brown considers his options in the Government’s third spending review. Fears are growing fears that college students will lose out.

The action follows a lively period for the sector in the news. The Green Paper on 14-19 education showed a new willingness by government to attend to vocational education. Recently we have also reported on appeals by the sector for more resources, government critique and a call for debate on the future of FE, and the colleges' angry response to that. In the face of the surprisingly sudden and strong governmental assaults on FE's weaknesses, the colleges have maintained that while the sector would profit from benign attention, it represents extremely good value for its funding. Sensing that the recent government criticism may be a preparation for further reorganisation, the colleges have also hit back by accusing the government of indecision in their attitude to vocational education.

The joint lobby will link to events under the banner of "Colleges make the Difference: Fund the Future", which will take place from 11am until 6pm on the day:
- Press conference in The Library Room, London Marriott Hotel, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB, 10.30 – 11.00
- Briefings in The Library Room, London Marriott Hotel, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB, throughout the day (programme t.b.c.)
- Speeches in the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons, 3.00-6.00pm.

Colleges have bid for £2.5 billion extra over three years to close the funding gap with schools, improve student financial support and lift lecturers’ and support staff pay. There are four million students in some 450 colleges in England and Wales. These include 675,000 16-19 year olds, compared with only 400,000 in schools, and 3.5 million adults. Over half of all A level students attend further education or sixth form colleges. Colleges are the main providers of adult basic education, technical qualifications at Level 3 and provide over 40% of entrants to higher education.


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