The Southern Regional College area could see a cut of 3,000 student places and a reduction in staffing numbers as cuts in the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) bite deep.
The Department issued its draft budget for 2015/16 which highlighted unprecedented reductions in places for learners at Further Education (FE) colleges.
This in the context of the proposed 10.8% budget reduction to DEL as outlined in the Finance Minister’s speech to the NI Assembly on 3 November.
Brian Doran, Chief Executive of the Southern Regional College commented: “The proposed level of cuts, if passed on to colleges, will result in over 3,000 fewer places available across the region that is served by the Southern Regional College.
“The reduction will have a devastating impact on continued opportunities for young people and adult learners alike. The reductions will affect the College’s provision in full time further and higher education, skills training as well as our support through community outreach programmes. If the Executive is serious above rebalancing and rebuilding the economy this will not be achieved without the necessary investment in our young people.
“The importance of a vibrant and flexible further education sector and its contribution to economic growth and development through the provision of high quality education and training should not be forgotten when the Executive sits down to finalise budgets.”
Gerry Campbell, Chief Executive of Colleges Northern Ireland: “Further Education is a key enabler in supporting the skills pipeline and it is critical that FE continues to support government and employers in rebalancing and rebuilding our economy.
“Raising aspirations and improving life chances is essential for building a society which values the contribution of all our people.
“Colleges NI remains extremely concerned about the devastating impact that these budget cuts will have on the provision of further education across NI.”