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28th Nov, 2021

Malvern Hills College reopens so students can finish courses as meeting is held with union fighting for its future

MALVERN Hills College has reopened its doors to allow adult students to return to complete courses which had been postponed as result of the pandemic.

WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) is honouring its commitment to students wishing to complete their courses this summer by temporarily re-opening the Albert Road North site.

The college has been closed for more than 12 months and the re-opening allows for the completion of part-time leisure courses suspended in March 2020. It will also see a small number of new courses start next Monday, May 17.

Students who booked on for courses scheduled to take place last spring have been invited to complete their studies in this period.

Courses taking place range include acrylics, bookbinding, calligraphy, jewellery making, floristry, sewing, painting, and woodwork.

WCG will be making available the use of kilns at its Royal Leamington Spa college to finish firing of ceramics made during courses at Malvern Hills College – ensuring students get to benefit from the fruit of their labour while recognising that the kilns at Malvern have been out of use for some time.

Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG, said: “After 12 months of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are pleased to be able to re-open the college and allow students the opportunity to complete their courses.

“The courses concerned are all non-Government funded provision and so did not meet the government criteria for being essential during the pandemic, but as Covid-19 restrictions are easing we consider it now safe to temporarily reopen for the completion of these courses.

“We will soon be revealing the details of our new adult part-time course offering at Malvern Hills Science Park, which will provide technical further education and respond to the economic needs of the area.”


Meeting with University and College Union

A meeting was held this week between the University and College Union (UCU) and Malvern Hills College representatives to discuss the closure of parts of Evesham College and the shutting down and sale of the Malvern Hills Campus by WCG.

WCG plans to close the Malvern campus completely by August, while cutting provision at Evesham College by two-thirds, and moving Supported Learning and Access to HE courses to another site seven miles away.

Campaigners say students and staff currently based at Malvern Hills would be forced to travel over 20 miles. Early Years courses would be slashed completely.

UCU has previously condemned WCG’s failure to properly consult with students, staff, or the local community, and argued that management has overseen a process of ‘managed decline’ since 2016.

The union said Evesham and Malvern need more investment in local further education provision, not cuts and closures, and pointed out that many of the courses being targeted are essential for both adult education and access to higher education.

UCU accused WCG management of reducing opportunities for people in the area and contributing to worsening inequalities, and urged people to attend the upcoming public meeting.

UCU regional support official Teresa Corr said: “Evesham and Malvern need more investment in local further education provision, not cuts and closures.

“Many of the courses that are being relocated or cut are essential for teenagers seeking to access higher education, and for adults needing to retrain and upskill as we recover from the pandemic.

“Warwickshire College Group’s management absurdly claim they are ‘investing’ in their Worcestershire campuses, but in reality, they are reducing opportunities for people in the area and compounding existing inequalities.

“UCU is campaigning hard to fight these plans, pushing for college management to properly consult the staff, students and local community who would suffer were they to be pushed through.

“The college needs to be transparent about its decision-making process.”


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