No to cuts at Belfast Metropolitan College

The Department for Employment and Learning has this month published a report, undertaken by a private consultancy firm, on the financing of Belfast Metropolitan College. This report recommends the cutting of jobs and a reduction in community courses that don’t have a qualification associated with them.

The report also recommends that staff’s working hours be limited largely to a system of “contracted teaching hours”, with monitoring systems be put in place, ensuring as little overtime as possible. It also suggests the possibility of a fixed number of annual working hours for the teaching staff, being set at the start of each year.

Although the report comes down hard on the college’s staff, it also promotes the role of “outside assistance” in the college. In order to address the reported deficit of £6.7million in 2007/2008, the college has been asking staff to volunteer for redundancy for some time, and has admitted to losing staff it would find very hard to replace through this.

Overall the report promotes the idea of running the college like a business. The principle of the college being a public institution for supporting and educating the community is ignored, in favour of cost cutting. It fails to criticise any senior management staff or bodies such as the DEL and instead focuses on the reduction of jobs and courses.

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