No more subsidies for leisure courses

NRC Newtownabbey.
NRC Newtownabbey.
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Colleges NI - the sectoral body representing Northern Ireland’s six Further Education (FE) colleges - has confirmed that subsidies for the delivery of hobby and leisure courses will end this year due to funding cuts.

The organisation’s chief executive, Gerry Campbell, released a statement outlining the implications of the 2015/16 budget settlement.

“The colleges are no longer facing the 10.8 per cent initially anticipated , however, the cuts of £12million to the 2015/16 budget will still have impacts on the role of the FE sector to deliver high quality education and training which is central to rebuilding and rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy,” he said.

“The £12million reduction in further education will be partially mitigated by the proposed use of £6million in end-of-year flexibility, which, is the subject to the agreement of the Northern Ireland Executive. This is in effect the use of reserves in the sector. That leaves a balance of £6million, and it will be for the respective boards of governors to agree how the various cuts to the colleges will be managed.”

Mr Campbell added: “The Department for Employment and Learning has clearly stated some areas affected by these cuts.

“In future, Essential Skills places will be reduced in line with falling demand over the last few years, subsidies for the delivery of hobby and leisure courses will end and higher education tuition costs will be harmonised across all six FE colleges.

“There will still be a small residual which will be up to each individual college to find - ultimately, it will be for college boards of governors to agree how they will address these remaining shortfalls.”

The six regional FE colleges - Belfast Metropolitan College, Northern Regional College, North West Regional College, Southern Regional College, South Eastern Regional College and South West College - are the main providers of vocational, professional and technical education and training in Northern Ireland, currently offering provision to more than 90,000 learners each year.

• For related story ‘Please don’t cut our lifeline’ and video click here.