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Principals joining forces to batle bid to reduce student money
SOUTHAMPTON principals are fighting back against controversial Government plans to dramatically cut student funding.
They warn that if action is not taken to stop these cuts, disadvantaged young people will be most at risk of being forced to leave higher education before they have achieved their qualifications.
The principals of City College Southampton, Richard Taunton Sixth Form College and Itchen College believe they must speak out to protect the education of the city’s youngsters.
Sarah Stannard, principal of City College, said: “My concern is the impact on the young people of Southampton and the wider area.
“They are already faced with a tough and highly competitive jobs market and need all the help they can get when it comes to preparation for work. Employers rightly want us to make sure that young people are ready for work. This reduction in funding will make it much harder."
Around 600 teenagers in Southampton and thousands more across Hampshire and the UK will have their education funding dramatically cut if new Government proposals are approved.
Under the new proposals, the Education Funding Agency will cut funding for 18-year-olds by 17.5 per cent from September 2014.
It will affect 18-year-olds not just at further education colleges but also those in school sixth forms.
In a letter sent to college heads across the country, the Government body justified the cuts by saying that: “Most 18 year-olds will already have benefited from two years of post-16 education and will not therefore need as much non-qualification provision within their study programmes as 16 and 17-year-olds.”
But the three Southampton colleges argue that this is not the case.
Alice Wrighton, principal of Richard Taunton, added: “Not everyone is lucky enough to sail through their teenage years without any difficulties, and this decision to discriminate financially against those who for whatever reason need to take another year to fulfil their ambitions is unjustifiable.”
They are also calling upon leader of the Conservative group at Southampton City Council, Royston Smith, for help.
They say that the funding cuts could mean that in future colleges have to increase class sizes or reduce the teaching hours and staff support to 18-year-olds.
Barry Hicks, principal at Itchen College, added: “Itchen is disappointed to see that student funding at 18 is to be cut and would challenge the Government to explain why a student recovering from serious ill health and who has overcome real obstacles should suffer this in the very year when they are striving to enter university or work.”
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