The leader of a trade union representing City College staff in Brighton has extended an olive branch to the new management.
Unison branch secretary Alex Knutsen is due to meet senior management next week and expects to meet the new interim principal Monica Box soon afterwards. She started on Wednesday (25 February).
He said that he pledged his branch’s “support and assistance in assisting the board and management” in resolving problems at the college.
Mr Knutsen said: “We want to bring our practical experience to bear, looking at budgets and avoiding redundancies wherever possible.”
He added: “Last year the financial crisis was ‘sprung’ on the UCU and ourselves and led to a confrontational situation, although we reached an agreement in the end that avoided compulsory redundancies.”
“This year it is reassuring that we have been involved at the very start and the management have moved very quickly to put the ‘right’ people in the ‘right’ places to address the problems.
“One of the major causes of the issues is the increasing competition for students, with the education leaving age rising to 18 years, so that 6th form and FE colleges are fighting to get students ‘through the door’.
“Funding then arrives in arrears on three separate occasions during the year. The consequence of this is that colleges then have to ‘cover’ long periods until the next tranche of money arrives.
“For larger institutions, if numbers of students drop, the deficit can seriously affect finances and that occurs with immediate effect.
“Politicians need to consider how this can be remedied.
“City College is certainly not the only one in the Sussex area facing such problems.
“Unison will, as always, work very hard to assist the college, both to protect our members’ jobs and, as importantly, the excellent level of education – the results are in the top 15 per cent nationally – provided to students.
“This college, with BHASVIC and Varndean, is one of the education ‘jewels’ in this city. We all need to ensure it stays at that level.”