Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Pounds 20m Campus Plans Shelved as Job Losses Threatened: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Pounds 20m Campus Plans Shelved as Job Losses Threatened: Fe News

Article excerpt

Financial woes leave Kent college facing prospect of strike action.

It has been a week to forget for K College. Just days after it emerged that the college has been forced to shelve its plans for a new Pounds 20 million campus (pictured) due to funding concerns, the University and College Union has threatened strike action over plans to make up to 145 employees redundant.

Building work in Ashford on the ambitious project by the college, formed two years ago following the merger of South Kent and West Kent colleges, had been scheduled to begin last spring. Now principal Bill Fearon has conceded that the plans are "unlikely" to be pursued for at least two years and that they may well have to be scaled down.

"It is too expensive in the current climate in the short term," Mr Fearon said. "The public sector at large, including colleges, is having to take austerity measures, and we have to budget within financial cuts and constraints that were not in place when we first embarked on the project. If and when we do go ahead, the scale of the development may be smaller than currently proposed."

The college is considering a temporary move into new premises in Ashford town centre, with a view to selling off its Jemmett Road campus, but no decision is expected imminently.

The row over the college's planned redundancies also shows no sign of being resolved any time soon. Last month, the college embarked on a statutory 90-day consultation with staff over its proposal to cut 110 full-time jobs and a number of part-time positions. …

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