Students petition MP to get more funding for Barking and Dagenham College

Jon Cruddas MP with Barking and Dagenham students Steve Mizen, Reece Valentine-Coker, Yousra Arif, Y

Jon Cruddas MP with Barking and Dagenham students Steve Mizen, Reece Valentine-Coker, Yousra Arif, Yahya Adeltalukdar, Agnes Melkvi, Tasnim Suhan. They delivered petition cards urging him support improved funding for post-16 colleges. Picture: Angharad Carrick. - Credit: Angharad Carrick

Students from Barking and Dagenham College (BDC) have delivered over 600 petition cards to Jon Cruddas MP urging him to support better investment in colleges.

The 630 cards are a part of the Love Our Colleges campaign calling on the government to invest more in further education and fairer pay for staff.

Since austerity began in 2009/10 to 2017/18 colleges have lost 30 per cent of their government funding when adjusted for inflation, according to Department for Education figures.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said he will be taking up the issue with education secretary Gavin Williamson next week and relaying the students' concerns.

"I don't know what the criteria are for funding to be cut. Barking and Dagenham College is well-performing and it is indicative of the wider problem of funding cuts in education," he said.

The Love Our Colleges campaign calls for a long-term funding plan for colleges that increases funding to £5,000 per student and to close the pay gap with schools.

Student ambassadors collected signatures from their peers each morning and lunchtime before meeting with their MP to discuss the cuts.

The cards call on MPs to write to the chancellor asking him to include a long-term funding plan for colleges in the next Spending Review, ask a question about college funding in parliament, and visit a college in their constituency.

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Student president, Yahya Adeltalukdar, asked: "It seems like we're going backwards. Businesses are looking for people to have skills, but how can we be successful if the courses are being cut?"

The students also delivered 226 petition cards to Barking's MP Dame Margaret Hodge.

Mr Cruddas attacked the previous Conservative government's austerity policies. "It is frustrating. We hear that the decade-long funding cuts are over, but I can see no evidence that they are."

Agnes Melkivi, an apprentice studying team leadership at BDC, said: "We hope that colleges receive efficient funding that will develop the students' skills as well as offer many opportunities in the future."

Mr Cruddas added: "We should be investing in our young people. It helps to prevent them from going down the wrong path and gives them greater life opportunities."