The East Riding College column with principal Mike Welsh

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This academic year brings with it the opportunity to celebrate an important anniversary for Bridlington.

It is ten years since East Riding College’s campus at St Mary’s Walk was opened.

A decade is not a long time in a building’s life, but a lot has changed in our world in that relatively short time.

Thousands of students have passed through our doors and millions of pounds worth of skills funding has been invested in people in Bridlington.

Thanks are owed to the leadership team that made the courageous choice over a decade ago to invest in Bridlington by conceiving of and building a new state of the art college campus.

Unfortunately, the last ten years has also seen funding cuts in further education that has brought the sector almost to its knees.

It is the only part of the education budget to have had year on year cuts since 2010. The Association of Colleges estimates that funding has been cut by 30% overall.

An independent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that further education in particular has been the biggest loser in education over the last 25 years.

A report by the Children’s Commissioner showed that in real terms, spending per student (aged 16-18) will drop to the same level as it was 30 years ago by the end of this decade.

These kinds of cuts have real consequences.

Students in colleges get less funding to pay for their education than students in schools and universities.

Over the 10 years since our St Mary’s Walk campus was opened, spending on adult education has halved and the number of adults in education has halved.

Students in England are now getting 10 hours less teaching time a week than their European counterparts. We’re short-changing the next generation and it needs to stop.

And what’s more, tutors in colleges get paid on average nearly a third less than teachers in schools and have seen their pay decline by 25% over the last decade in real terms, which is why the Association of Colleges are seeking extra government funding to support a pay rise for staff.

And yet… Colleges in England are the main provider of education to 16-18 year olds.

We train and educate a million young people and two million adults a year.

We supply the next generation of engineers, health care professionals and teachers.

Tens of thousands of college students go onto study at University, in fact 53% of our own Level 3 students do just that.

We are central to inclusive education and social fairness – because when it comes to education, one size does not fit all.

Colleges have real impact in the communities they serve and are central to economic growth and prosperity.

That’s why the #LoveOurColleges campaign, which saw hundreds of college staff and students march on Parliament to lobby MPs, is asking the Government to fund colleges more fairly.

Politics students from a college in Hampshire started a petition which collected over 50,000 signatures in a matter of days.

Show your support to us, your local college, by signing it.

When it reaches 100,000 signatures it will be considered for a debate in Parliament. Visit http://bit.ly/loveourcolleges