A brief introduction to the Love our Colleges campaign.

The 17th October will mark a day of lobbying for colleges, organised by the Association of Colleges (AoC).

So what exactly can you expect?

What will happen?

Education unions are organising a march on the Houses of Parliament from Pall Mall.

Principals, staff and students are expected to arrive in Westminster from 10am and the Methodist Central Hall for registration with the march expected to begin at 1230.

This is likely to be followed by speeches and meetings with MPs.

AoC staff will spend the latter part of the afternoon answering question inside Westminster Hall.

Why is this happening?

2.2 million people are educated or trained each year in a British college. One-third of young people who enter university under the age of nineteen do so after completing a course at a college.

They also offer many vocational and professional education courses for those choosing paths other than higher education.

These colleges have seen cuts of 30% in the last decade whilst costs have increased. Fewer teaching hours are available and teachers are paid less than 80% of what school teachers earn.

Unions, colleges and their students wish for fairer funding, believing colleges to be vital in driving social mobility and economic growth through the educational opportunities they offer.

What exactly do colleges offer?

Supporters of the college system will point out that much of their cohort is made up of from backgrounds with historically low participation in further/higher education. A strong college system will help these individuals make their first steps in attaining qualifications that they may previously have struggle to obtain.

A focus on practical/vocational training has allowed colleges to provide skilled workers to local employers and allows for part-time study whilst working. Since the 2010–11 educational year, part-time enrollments have dropped by 61%.

Is this a price worth paying for increased university enrollment?

Evidence released seems to suggest pupils who would have previously gone down the college route are most likely to be targeted by unconditional offers and year zero programmes (Foundation years prior to undergraduate entry).

There have been concerns that universities are unable to replicate the support network usually found in colleges, who usually have smaller classes offering more one to one support.

There have also been fears that individual needs are being placed second to recruitment targets.

What is hoped to be gained?

Fairer funding to allow colleges to continue to achieve their aims and tackle the challenges they face.

This includes allowing more local learning options as for many individuals studying away from home is not an option and creating an environment where people can continue to learn and contribute.

For more information, please visit: https://www.collegesweek.co.uk/