A Wearside MP has joined forces with staff and students at Sunderland College to call a halt to further education cuts.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, handed in a petition to the House of Commons this week, which warns the level of the Government cuts to further education and college budgets will be very damaging and could even lead to an ending of this essential education service.
It was created by students and staff of Sunderland College, who collected 266 signatures on their own petition and presented it to Mrs Hodgson.
This year, the Government announced a 24% cut to the Adult Skills Budget (non-apprenticeship provision), and estimates, from the University and College Lecturers’ Union, UCU, show the cuts could lead to a loss of more than 400,000 college students in 2015/16 alone.
Union officials and college staff say these cuts come as yet another blow to college budgets, which have already had significant funding reductions over the last few years.
Sunderland College students say they are particularly concerned that these further cuts will reduce the number of adults returning to education or retraining, and they will place colleges under such financial pressure that there could be institutional closures and redundancies.
There are also fears that the most vulnerable people throughout society are the most likely to be hit the most severely.
Speaking after handing in the petition, Mrs Hodgson, said: “The savage cuts to further education are a disaster for the long-term prospects of so many people up and down the country.
“We should be investing in people, not taking away the best ways for them to improve their skills and get better-paid jobs.
“The staff and students of Sunderland College deserve huge credit for standing up to the Government on this issue.
“I was only too happy to support them and hand this petition into Parliament.”