In response to concerns raised by an unnamed correspondent in the 12 April edition of the Derbyshire Times under the heading “Shocking college redundancies” I felt it important to correct the impression given by the writer that there is somehow a choice between good teaching and support to students and the college undertaking improvements to its accommodation.
As with most, if not all, publicly-funded organisations post the bale-out of the banks, our funding is being cut and we have no choice but to bring our costs in line with our income.
At the same time we are being contracted to deliver fewer students than we were two years ago due to the declining number of 16 year olds.
It is a sad fact, but inevitable, that we therefore have to reduce our staffing; managers, teachers and support staff. We hope to achieve these reductions by voluntary redundancy and I can assure everyone that we will still have sufficient staff to teach all the students who enrol at the College in September.
We will also continue to provide all of the support they need to achieve their qualifications and move into or remain in employment or progress to higher education.
Despite the impression given by the unnamed writer, it is nearly 20 years since colleges were under the control of Derbyshire County Council but we are indeed accountable to you, the community we serve, for the education and training that we provide.
Since leaving the control of the local authority our full-time student numbers have more than doubled and yet our accommodation and facilities for these students has not changed.
There is an urgent need for more social and informal learning space and that is why we are undertaking the changes to the Infirmary Road site. It is vital that we keep the College ‘current’ and responsive to the changing needs of our students whilst at the same time cutting our costs to ensure the College stays financially sound for the future.
The cost of the new entrance and social space is £3 million; about the same amount we need to cut our costs by next year. We had the choice of either not improving our facilities and continue to have the same level of staff for a further year (and still have to make these savings in 12 months time), or make these savings now and improve our facilities for the benefit of our students. We chose the latter option for the benefit of our students now and in the future.
We will always make sure we have the right people in the right jobs, from teaching through to the extensive support services we offer.
Finally I would like to address concerns expressed by your other correspondent over adults that are returning to education and the courses we offer for them.
We are always looking to respond to the changing needs of the community and although the part time access to Higher Education course is no longer running we provide a wide range of alternative part time qualifications to enable mature students to progress to higher level courses and ultimately gain the career they desire.