Protesters will take to the streets on Saturday to protest against the planned closure of Stourbridge College.
It was announced last month that Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet) would transfer its Black Country provision to Dudley College of Technology and Halesowen College.
Following an eight-week review by the FE commissioner’s team, Stourbridge College students will be transferred to the two institutions by the start of the new academic year in September 2019. BMet has been subject to a financial notice of concern since July 2015.
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Stourbridge College protest
The University and Colleges Union said the decision would be a “huge blow” to the community and mean an end to vocational education in Stourbridge. The union, which is organising this weekend’s protest in the town, stressed that the closure would affect hundreds of staff and students, and there had been no meaningful consultation about the move with the local community, staff or students. Many students had raised concerns about the cost and additional travelling time involved in getting to their new campuses, the UCU added.
The union said the closure timetable did not leave enough time for proper consideration of all the options for the college’s future and say BMet must halt its plans and consult properly with all those affected. Last month, over 300 people attended a public meeting to discuss the announcement, organised by UCU, Unison, the NEU teaching union and local Labour party campaigners.
'Damaging' college plans
UCU head of further education Andrew Harden said: “Closing Stourbridge College would be a huge blow for the community and end vocational education in the town. Students are understandably worried and unhappy about the prospect of having to travel further and pay more to access their courses. Local people should not have to pay such a high price for years of poor management by BMet.
“This decision affects hundreds of staff and students, but the current closure timetable is far too short for proper consideration of all the options. BMet must urgently halt these damaging plans so that proper consultation can take place with everyone affected.”
Saturday’s march will culminate in a rally, where speakers will be Mr Harden, Unison regional secretary Ravi Subramanian and local councillor Pete Lowe.