Evesham College Staff To Stage Lunch Time Protests Against Closure
Evesham College branch are staging a series of lunch time protests in the fight against course closures, site reduction and sell off by Warwickshire College Group (WCG).
Those wanting to support staff at the Evesham College can join them on their protests at the college on the 26th and 28th of May at 12:00PM. You can find more information about the protest via their Facebook event.
This is the latest move in a campaign which recently held a successful public meeting, attended by
stakeholders, local community groups and activists, alongside University and College Union members, college staff and students who agreed to come together and fight the closures. The UCU have condemned Warwickshire College Group’s decision to shut down and sell off its Malvern Hills campus, whilst reducing and selling off a large part of the Evesham campus.
A petition against the sell off and closures has at the time of writing hit over 900 signatures. From Autumn 2021, two thirds of the Evesham site will be sold off or “repurposed” with some courses moving 7 miles way to Pershore site. Other courses such as Early Years will no longer be offered in Worcestershire and Malvern Hills College will close.
WCG claim in press releases that they are making capital investment in Evesham and Pershore while in reality they are closing courses or moving them out of Evesham entirely. Since their initial notification to staff in November they have not consulted with staff, students or community stakeholders. No information has been forthcoming, even at union management meetings. However, WCG has suddenly announced a serious of meetings at separate campuses over the coming week.
UCU has argued that management has overseen a process of ‘managed decline’, by failing to promote courses at its Worcestershire Campuses. Asset stripping of FE and Adult Education Estates is happening the length and breadth of the land. Despite the recent FE White Paper and Queens Speech placing FE at the forefront of pandemic recovery, growth in the sector will be thwarted by the significant amount of FE estate that has already gone.
Selling off estate is used to offset lack of investment in the sector and the acute underfunding for well over a decade. As is happening at Evesham College, the losers are those needing local educational opportunities in smaller towns and rural communities. Indeed, Wychavon Ward, where Evesham College is based, is third from bottom out of 424 on the social mobility index in England 2019 (ONS), yet WCG is still persisting in cutting provision to this community.
UCU regional support official, Teresa Corr told Worcestershire Transformed:
Evesham college staff know the value of the work they do to the local community. Staff have been inundated with letters from students, ex-students and the public saying how critical it is to be able to study a wide range of courses in the locality. Local study is critical for students who have childcare/caring responsibilities, and often self-fund the costs of their education with part-time jobs.
Some courses won’t exist at all and some courses will be packed off to a campus 7 miles away. 7 miles is a long way if you find out you are urgently needed at home; 14 miles travel can eat up another hour and a half in your day.
This really matters and what has really upset staff, students and members of the community is the callous disregard of WCG in not seeking views from staff, students or the community in this decision to move on, close and sell off. Staff do not understand the decision to close and reduce anything when the rhetoric from WCG and Government is that they are investing in Further and Adult Education in order to up-skill and re-skill a COVID depleted work-force.
Are places like Evesham and Malvern forgotten in this context and actually the investment is in the South and the major cities? Where is the money from the sell-off’s going – Evesham community wants to know.
Those wanting to support the campaign can email SaveEveshamProvision@ucu.org.uk for details of how to email your local councillors and MPs, and how to let Angela Joyce, CEO or Warwickshire College Group, know what you think of their plans to axe Further and Adult Education provision in Evesham and Malvern.
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