Students and staff are set to protest outside Brighton’s City College tomorrow at plans to shed up to 50 jobs and close courses.
It comes as the two unions representing college staff, Unison and the University and College Union accuse principal Lynn Thackway and management of presiding over a “deepening financial crisis”.
The Brighton and Hove Independent today reports claims that suppliers – including examination boards – are owed hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Some local suppliers are reportedly refusing to do business with the college and at least one is believed to be threatening legal action to recover a debt of less than £200.
Dr Alison Kelly, UCU co-branch secretary, said: “We heard rumours – at least we hoped they were just rumours – that a senior manager had told finance staff to ‘borrow’ from staff pension contributions.
“Some of us contacted the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) this month and – to our horror – the TPS confirmed they had not received the latest pension contributions, and that because of that the college is being charged interest payments on the outstanding amounts.”
Mark Webb, a Unison representative, claimed: “Last week, we had cleaners, premises officers and laundry staff pulled out of the college by the agency that provides them because the college couldn’t or wouldn’t pay them the £23,000 owed.”
A totaly of 48 full-time roles are likely to be lost – half of them teaching staff and the rest from other services – subject to a 30-day consultation.
Many staff blame the current cuts on the college overstretching itself for an ambitious £79 million rebuilding scheme.
A Facebook page called Save City College Brighton, which has more than 500 likes, calls the rebuild “pointless”.
Principal Lynn Thackway told the Argus this week: “We are determined to ensure the college remains strong and serves the city and all of our current and future students.
“The restructure is not linked to our capital development plans. This is about realigning the staff costs at a time when funding is being cut or reduced with many of our costs rising.”
It’s not yet clear which courses are affected, but at least one is to fall victim to the cuts.
The college’s journalism course is to close at the end of the term. Media commentator and Kemp Town resident Roy Greenslade, who gives an annual talk to students there, reports one staff member as saying: “One of the most popular, successful and friendly NCTJ courses is going to the wall. It’s very sad.”
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