COLLEGE students and staff faced uncertainty this week following redundancy announcements and news of the potential closure of a campus — while staff at another Rotherham college went on strike.
RNN Group — which manages University Centre Rotherham, Rotherham College and Dearne Valley College — confirmed 24 full-time jobs will go and said its Dinnington campus was under threat under the third restructure in two years.
A spokesman for RNN group said its three-year plan included a review of its estates “to identify land and property that could be released to fund investment”.
He added: “Additional proposals to be considered include transferring provision from the Dinnington Campus to other colleges’ sites and curriculum development at Dearne Valley College, Rotherham College and North Notts College.
“A separate review of the group’s 1,000-strong workforce is also underway, which is proposing changes in a number of business support and curriculum teams, with 24 full-time equivalent posts proposed to be made redundant following the 30-day formal consultation period with staff and unions.”
In June, when the RNN Group announced 40 redundancies, the spokesman said the group had a 1,200-strong workforce.
The spokesman said the latest redundancies would help to ensure a “financially stable future”, adding: “It is important to stress that there will be no negative impact on the number of places available or progression pathway opportunities for our learners.”
The National Education Union (NEU) urged RNN Group to keep its Dinnington campus open to support the needs of students and the community and claimed 76 employees were at risk overall.
The union said in a joint statement with Unison, GMB and University and College Union (UCU): “This will be the third restructure in two years, with further redundancies planned which will have a significant impact on students with special educational needs and disabilities.
“The redundancies effect departments such as arts and design, performing arts, public services, sports and hospitality, which as a result, will significantly limit the number of places available on these courses.
“Posts will be made redundant by the end of the year which will impact the amount of support that students currently receive.
“Unions are concerned about the provision for students that are currently at the college and the breadth of courses that are available to future students.
“The unions are working to protect the staff in the colleges and ensure that any financial planning is robust and fit for purpose.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Rotherham College staff went on strike on Wednesday to demand more funding.
NEU members TRC held a day of industrial action over what they called a “£700 million shortfall in funding for post-16 education”.
Lucy Hopley, from the union, said sixth form colleges were “on their knees”, adding: “Serious investment is needed urgently to ensure that it can remain the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the education sector.”
A spokesperson added: “Teaching staff numbers and support staff posts have fallen significantly due to the real-terms cuts, while at the same time student numbers have risen.”
TRC did not respond to requests for a comment.