COLLEGE SHOCK: Health students may join theatre students in forced move but business courses reprieved

COLLEGE bosses confirmed today the curtain will come down on theatre courses at Wisbech with students forced to travel to Kings Lynn as part of a �3.4 million cuts package.

At the same time the college announced a reprieve for many students on business and computing courses at Wisbech who also faced a move to Kings Lynn.

However the college also announced a fresh consultation to transfer the provision of health and social care courses from Wisbech to King’s Lynn campus.

Principal David Pomfret said: “These courses are currently duplicated on both sites. “However, the majority of staff and students are already based at King’s Lynn and the transfer of provision to King’s Lynn would affect a small number of students.”

Giving details of the reprieve for business and computing courses Mr Pomfret said the original proposal was to transfer all provision to Kings Lynn.

“However, I am pleased to say that we will be retaining the full range of computing courses at the Isle campus. In this area, level 2 and level 3 business courses will be the only provision to transfer to the King’s Lynn campus.

“The decision to continue to offer computing at Isle is partly in recognition of the significant number of students and applicants in that area as well as its wider importance in meeting the skills needs of the economy.”

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But he confirmed the transfer of the performing arts course to King’s Lynn will go ahead.

“Although the course in Wisbech is of undoubted quality and enjoys a unique link with the Angles Theatre, we cannot afford to continue to deliver performing arts in both Wisbech and King’s Lynn,” he said.

“There are significantly more students taking performing arts courses at King’s Lynn than in Wisbech, which was a crucial factor in the decision.

“We will, however, be discussing with the management of the Angles Theatre how we might continue to use the facilities for future performances.”

Governors have also agreed to axing up to 40 staff but lifting of a recruitment freeze- imposed earlier this year- means some may be able to apply for other posts.

The college employs more than 800 staff and the posts which could be lost affect teaching and non-teaching staff at college sites in King’s Lynn, Wisbech, Downham Market and Milton, near Cambridge. The majority of posts at risk are in non-teaching areas.

Mr Pomfret said: “We are seeing the start of several years of government funding cuts for further education and this is beginning to affect colleges across the whole country. “The College of West Anglia needs to make budget savings of �3.4million and, although we are planning to deliver the major part of this through reductions in non-pay budgets, the reality is that we cannot continue to deliver the same range of courses and training at all our locations in light of these funding cuts. “

“We received a huge amount of feedback during the consultation process – from staff, students, parents as well as members of the local community – all of which we considered before making our final decisions.

“Although the scale of the funding cuts means we are unfortunately unable to avoid any impact on students, we have managed to make some changes to the original proposals which will mean fewer courses will now be affected.”

The college says it is committed to ensuring that appropriate transport arrangements are in place for students affected by the course transfers.

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