NORTH East colleges are facing the biggest further education jobs crisis in England as the Government cuts continue.
Funding cuts to further education are deeper here than anywhere else in the country, a teaching union has warned.
There are known to be around 1,500 jobs at risk in 44 colleges across England – and more than half of them are based at just a handful of FE institutions in our region.
Newcastle, South Tyneside, Tyne Metropolitan, City of Sunderland, East Durham, Bishop Auckland and Stockton Riverside colleges have all announced job cuts, which in total add up to 809 posts.
University and College Union (UCU) regional official Iain Owens said the North East was being affected more than other regions due to its high reliance on the public sector for employment.
“We are getting absolutely hammered at the moment,” he said. “With its reliance on public sector jobs, which are being cut, the North East is being disproportionately affected.
“Sunderland and East Durham are among the most deprived areas of the country and they are being worst hit.”
South Tyneside College’s principal, Lindsey Whiterod, said the college had to make savings of £3m to balance the books, so would be looking to shed up to 200 posts.
She said: “Because of the funding cuts which all colleges are facing we have had to evaluate our curriculum offer and work on a new plan to maximise the funding available to us for 16 to 18, adult and higher education.
“We are working closely with the unions to minimise the impact on staff at the college. We are aware that this is a difficult time for our staff.
“As a college we do not take these decisions lightly, the redundancy process has taken months as we did not want to make any decisions on staffing until we received the allocated budget for each area.”
She added: “South Tyneside College is not alone, other colleges across the region have also been forced into making similar decisions.”