Assembly Member to make last ditch plea for more money for local colleges

2009 Mehefin 15 8:55 AM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black is to stage a half-hour debate in the Welsh Assembly on Thursday highlighting the plight of further education colleges in Swansea and Bridgend and calling on the Minister to find extra cash to save vital facilities such as Stadium House in Landore, Canolfan y Bont in Pontarddulais and A-level tuition in Bridgend. Mr. Black has been successful in winning a ballot to put on the short debate and has chosen to raise the plight of students in his region who have suffered as a result of cuts in education provision by the Labour-Plaid Cymru Government. Speaking in the debate Mr. Black will say:

"Colleges do need to plan for those things, but we should also expect the Assembly Government to plan and to take account of that. It does not help anyone's planning assumptions if Principals build into their budgets what they expect to receive for the coming financial year only to find that there has been an arbitrary 7.5 per cent cut in that funding, and then, when that funding is reinstated following a number of protests, to find that the additional money is redistributed according to a completely different formula. How can anyone plan on that basis? They just cannot. In my region this has had a telling impact. Swansea College has had to cut about £1 million from its budget. Because half of all its activity is targeted at over-19s then this age group has been particularly badly hit including the closure of Stadium House in Landore, which is specifically for those over the age of 19 with special needs. In addition the College has been forced to reduce funding for sign language provision, contrary to the ambitions of the Welsh Assembly Government to promote BSL and train more interpreters. As a result no more students are being taken on, there is no progression for current sign language students and four disabled people are likely to be made redundant. Gorseinon College also faces cuts amounting to around three quarters of a million pounds. They have received an outstanding report from Estyn, are meeting all their government targets and deliver most of their provision for the target 16-18 cohort. Despite that they are being forced to close down their campus in Pontarddulais that caters for adult learning as well as make cuts elsewhere. This closure will have a profound impact on the town of Pontarddulais. Many people there do not have a car and cannot get to other facilities. All of this goes against the Welsh Government's so-called commitment to lifelong learning and will restrict people's ability to reskill and retrain. Finally, in my region Bridgend College also faces having to cut about a million pounds from its £25 million budget despite the fact that like Gorseinon and Swansea they are performing better than expectations. The most high profile cut they are having to implement is closing down all of their A-level classes with the impact that has on students.

"Mr. Black will conclude his speech by asking the Minister to reconsider the funding of the post-16 sector so as to save these services.

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