Education leaders from across the further education sector have warned against more cuts being proposed by the Conservatives. The comments have been made after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne (pictured right), announced that to balance the books a further £30 billion in public spending cuts would be implemented if the Conservatives were to be re-elected.
These cuts would see a significant reduction in the military and justice system budgets, but also affect higher education funding too. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is predicted to receive a large reduction in their funding, placing most of the burden on further education programmes.
University and College Union General Secretary, Sally Hunt, released a statement warning that such cuts would be counter-productive: “investment in further and higher education benefits society, offers a great return for the taxpayer and should continue to be a major priority for government”.
According to education leaders, although more young people are continuing education than ever before, this trend is at risk if funding is cut by the proposed 33%.
Speaking on the issue, UUEAS Postgraduate Education Officer, Liam McCafferty said: “College cuts are pernicious, because they hit the poorest hardest. The fact that the government hasn’t ruled out further cuts to colleges are therefore terrifying, and will make it even harder for young people in North Norfolk to get the skills they need to get employment or access Higher Education”.
With only six months to go until the general election, the Chancellor’s announcement may prove to be key when students decide who to vote for come 7th May. Prime Minister David Cameron said in a recent statement that most of the recent cuts have achieved their economic aims. However, the uncertainty surrounding higher education is likely to be one of the most important issues for both local Norwich candidates and national political parties over the coming months.