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Dowd plan came at a great cost

Principal Ray Dowd (FE Focus, July 2 ), was being disingenuous in claiming the main aim of his recovery plan was to "get it right for students". In reality, his major priority was the implementation of a budget-driven plan to reorganise local FE provision and pay off the pound;13.9 million college debt.

The Dowd recovery plan has been achieved at great cost - in terms of de-skilling and social exclusion - to the 350,000 residents of the Wirral peninsular.

The plan has involved a loss of a quarter of the college staff; the closure and sale of college sites and the centralisation of all main sites into Birkenhead. The plan has also led to the creation of more than 40 satellite sites offering courses, mainly in computer literacy, which lack breadth, depth or proper progression routes for the part-time students who now form the majority of the 17,000 people currently enrolled at the college.

Our action group, which has long campaigned for a central FEcommunity college in Wallasey since the closure of the Withens Lane college in 1997, is very concerned about the direction FE is taking in the Wirral, especially at a time of growing skills crisis locally and nationally.

We believe Wirral Metropolitan college should start getting it right for students by reversing its budget-driven policies and establishing a network of FEcommunity colleges across Wirral that can truly meet the comunity's needs.

Daniel Doyle Chairman of Wallasey Further Education Action Group 2 Shiel Road Wallasey, Merseyside

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