Making his second visit to Cricklade College in three years, Tim Boswell gained an insight into the pressures on tertiary colleges. "When the Government claims to have given this sector an 11% increase, it sounds very generous; but once you take out the contributions to the pension fund, the higher National Insurance Contributions and non-wage inflation, you are left with very little. In the case of Cricklade College, it is virtually a standstill budget or worse."
Both Sir George and Mr Boswell were impressed by the College's recent results, and visited the IT suite where students were taking the European Computer Driving Licence course.
They discussed with the Principal, Dr Tom Johnson, possible future changes in the structure of further and higher education and its impact on Hampshire.
"Given all the pressures on the College, it does remarkably well" said the MP's.
Both MP’s showed a keen interest in the college and Mr Boswell was particularly interested to see how government policy is actually translated at a local level.
Dr Tom Johnson, Principal said, “Many colleges have called for some years for changes, which could have a strong impact on how colleges can work. Often, qualifications are inflexible rather than modular and often the funding, which comes to colleges, is linked to students completing whole qualifications. In practice this means that colleges can be prevented from offering employers and students the learning they want “.
Cricklade has been commended on the excellent work highlighting and addressing the basic skills need in the Andover area. The college has been invited to a reception at the House of Commons in June. Cricklade has been particularly successful in engaging local employers to help identify workers that would benefit from basic skills training.
Sir George said “The college is well placed and keen to take advantage of the government’s new ‘skills strategy’ to support the community, both the individual adult learner and the employer.
Both Sir George and Mr Boswell were impressed by the College's recent 96.5% pass rate at A level, and were offered a tour of the new IT centre where over 750 adult learners have studyied for the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) this year.
The MPs discussed with the Principal, possible future changes in the structure of further and higher education and its impact on Hampshire.
Mr Boswell said, “I can see that Cricklade is continuing to raise skill levels and support local businesses. I am very keen to see the Government’s final proposals for the new Skills Strategy.”