Squeeze on funding forces job cuts at Banbury college

Banbury and Bicester College. NNL-170613-160538009
Banbury and Bicester College. NNL-170613-160538009

Banbury College has been forced to axe 22 members of staff because of education funding cuts.

Banbury and Bicester College chief Sally Dicketts said the redundancies are the result of an ongoing funding squeeze.

The college confirmed this week that 22 posts are affected, 13 of which are in the Creative Arts faculty.

Ms Dicketts, group chief executive of Activate Learning, said: “The further education sector has been chronically under-funded for many years and the issues we face are being faced by other colleges across the country.

“However, this does not take away from the fact that the prospect of redundancies is extremely difficult for those affected.

“The funding we will receive from September will reflect the number of students who studied with us this academic year.

“This year we enrolled fewer students, largely due to a drop in the 16-to-18-year-old population locally and in the case of creative arts, there has been a reduced focus on these subjects at secondary school.

“We must therefore reduce our costs in line with the funding we will receive from September.

“We are not reducing courses or taught hours, but will be ensuring a better teacher to student ratio by ensuring classes are no smaller than 16 students.

“We are committed to maintaining our provision, including in the creative arts, as we expect student numbers to increase again over the next two years.

“We recognise that this is a difficult time for staff, particularly those faced with the prospect of redundancy.

“We are however seeking opportunities to minimise the impact, for example through job sharing or voluntary redundancies.”

A source close to the college told the Banbury Guardian: “It seems 140 jobs are going over the three colleges (Banbury and Bicester College, City of Oxford College and Reading College) in the organisation and we had heard it was 40 jobs going at Banbury.

“I was told it was because of a lowbirth rate in 2000-2001 which has affected the number of 16 to 17 year olds so they are cutting back, though they expect numbers to rise again within a year or so. It appears to be short-termism at its worst.

“I understand it affects teaching and admin staff. It seems arts and crafts A-levels and trades and skills will all suffer. Library staff have been cut back from six to one which is extraordinary for a college.”