Ely College adult courses reviewed due to funding cuts

Ely College adult courses reviewed due to funding cuts says principal Richard Spencer. Picture: CLAR

Ely College adult courses reviewed due to funding cuts says principal Richard Spencer. Picture: CLARE BUTLER - Credit: Archant

Community courses at Ely College will be “reduced substantially” from September due to funding cuts.

Learners were told this week that a full programme of adult courses could "no longer be facilitated" at the site in Downham Road.

The decision comes due to lack of funding from Cambridgeshire County Council, which the college says has "forced" them to review their courses.

However, evening courses such as GCSE Maths and English, ESOL and Level 2 in Beauty Services will continue to run.

In a letter sent out by principal Richard Spencer, it states that to continue running the programme at the current prices would "require subsidy using school funds intended for the education of children".

He writes: "Ely College is facing significant financial challenges as a result of years of inadequate funding…and we have posted substantial deficit budgets - a situation that cannot continue.

"While some courses are popular and notionally viable, the overall costs of running an adult and community education programme need to be reduced substantially.

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"We have been successful in securing some funding for a programme of accredited qualifications for targeted learners in 2019/20, but we can no longer facilitate and run a full programme of non-accredited adult and community classes.

"Based on our analysis the direct and associated staffing costs (even if course fees are increased) are likely to be too great for us to make such an offer financially viable."

Course tutors will be contacted over the summer holiday with the potential for existing courses to be run as lettings in the autumn term on a private basis.

Mr Spencer continued: "We value the importance and benefits of a strong adult and community education programme at the college, we are committed to offering the best programme possible.

"We are also actively consulting with other adult and community education providers to explore engaging them in the utilisation of our site and facilities for a wider range of courses.

"I am very sorry that this situation has arisen."

But one resident who attended classes at the college said the value of the provision went beyond learning a new skill.

"The company it provided for those who might otherwise be lonely and the sheer therapy of feeling stimulated or fulfilled as well as being involved in something with others was vital," she said.

"Cutting this is false economy; it's likely to contribute to further pressure on health and social care, albeit not necessarily easily associated."

She added: "Obviously the college isn't culpable but is caught in the middle."