Socialist Worker

Students and workers unite at Barnsley College

by Dave Gibson, UCU branch secretary, Barnsley College
Issue No. 2253

Students in Barnsley, south Yorkshire, march to join their lecturers to show solidarity in the fight against education cuts

Students in Barnsley, south Yorkshire, march to join their lecturers to show solidarity in the fight against education cuts

Lecturers at Barnsley College were stunned to be told on Thursday of last week that at least 31 of us were facing compulsory redundancy. This is on top of 19 voluntary redundancies, so 25 percent of lecturers would go in total.

Management claim the college faces losing 20-30 percent of its funding over the next four years because of government cuts.

They are using that as an excuse for a disproportionate attack on lecturers.

Some ten hair and beauty lecturers could lose their jobs, 16 A-level lecturers—over a third of the A-level workforce—and all six lecturers teaching students with learning disabilities.

Jobs are also going in construction, engineering, catering and tourism.

This is accompanied by an assault on educational provision. The walls between classrooms are to be knocked through to create giant teaching spaces.

A-level students will be taught partially in mini-lecture theatres. The principal says this will prepare them for university.

The average class size will rise by 20 percent and in some areas course teaching hours are being cut.

Lecturers and students are furious at the cuts.

About 70 of the 200 UCU members at the college came to an emergency meeting the day the cuts were announced.

We voted unanimously to organise a demonstration on Wednesday, as well as urging all members to vote yes for strikes in our ballot starting the following day.

Art students made placards and marched to our meeting to show their support—it lifted the mood.

Jamie-Leigh Mitchell, one of the students, said that the cuts “will mean bigger classes and less attention will be given to us by our lecturers”.

An A-level student said, “The Tories do not care whether working class kids get an education.

“They took away our EMA, they put up tuition fees and now they are sacking our lecturers and dumping us in huge classes.

“They wouldn’t do this to their own kids at Eton or Westminster.”

Lecturers at Newcastle College have voted to escalate their action over jobs and pay. The UCU members are set to begin strikes in June. They backed strikes by more than 80 percent in a ballot.

THE UCU union has postponed a planned strike to defend jobs and pay at South Tyneside College for talks. They voted by 85 percent for strikes in a ballot this month.

Send messages of support to [email protected] and messages of protest to the principal [email protected]

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