Birmingham & Black Country

Hundreds protest against Stourbridge College closure

Protesters in Stourbridge Image copyright Unison
Image caption About 300 protesters held a rally in Stourbridge on Saturday against the closure plans

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets to protest against a planned college closure.

Stourbridge College is set to shut in the summer, with almost 1,000 students due to transfer to Dudley and Halesowen colleges from September.

Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet), which runs the site, said the move was needed due to £6m debts and was "in the best interests of our learners".

Unions claim disadvantaged students will be worst affected.

The Stourbridge site is being sold off and the University and College Union (UCU) claimed staff and students were paying the price for poor management.

It said the plans would increase travel times and costs for students.

The UCU also claimed the move made "little financial sense" with millions of pounds being spent refurbishing the Hagley Road campus.

Leigh Powell, Unison national officer, said staff expected the Stourbridge site to be sold to another college group.

Image caption Unions are calling for another consultation and a commitment to no compulsory redundancies

Ms Powell said unions wanted to know exactly how the decision had been reached to sell off the site, and called for another consultation.

"These people are sitting in a room with spreadsheets and they're not looking at what effect it will have on people's lives," she said.

"Suddenly, for students and staff to be told at the beginning of May your college is shutting down was a shock."

BMet took over Stourbridge College in 2013 and its chief executive Cliff Hall said the college was "performing really well", but with the level of debt, the closure was "in the best interests of our learners" across its sites in the Black Country and Birmingham.

He said the decision had "not been taken lightly" and had the "full support of the FE Commissioner and the Education and Skills Funding Agency".

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