Only student-worker solidarity and free education can save FE

Students, education workers and supporters march from London School of Economics to the London College of Communication on March 25, 2015 In London UK. The demonstration is aimed primarily at protesting a series of devastating cuts to Foundation courses at University Of Arts London, but is also themed around a broader fight for free and democratic education. Photo by Paul Mendoza/Pacific Press/ABACAPRESS.COM

By Monty Shield

The Government is leaving FE a dying sector. Repeated cuts to the Department of Education are responsible for thousands and thousands of courses being scrapped, an even higher number of staff redundancies, and predominantly working class people denied the educational opportunities they want and need. On top of this, private companies and big business have an increasingly large influence.

Whichever way you look, there is no good news in FE. Websites like FE Week, designed to present regular updates on what’s happening in the sector, essentially read like a long list of increasingly terrifying symptoms. The chronic illness behind all this: marketisation and underfunding.

We need a movement that fights back. But we also need a movement with a positive vision to fight for. Further education has seen the brunt of a brutal marketisation agenda for so long that we can’t just try to make small changes here and there.

We need to overhaul and transform FE. We should remove the artificial divisions between FE courses and HE course and instead have one post-16 National Education Service, free and accessible to anyone at any stage of life.

And we need a democratic education system, run by students and staff, for students and staff, so that the devastating situation in FE never happens again.

Go down to your local FE college, leaflet about the demo and talk to students. Let’s build the movement for the education system we desperately need.

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