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Students thrown off English course at Manchester College

MULE | 18.11.2009 16:51 | Education | Migration

Up to 300 students have been thrown off the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course at Manchester College. The college says this is because of “an unforeseen error in ESOL enrolment” and changes in government funding.

The students were only told five days before their classes were closed in a letter sent out by the college. Richard Goulding from Refugees and Asylum Seekers Participatory Research (RAPAR) says that they are deeply concerned about this incident since the closing of the course will put the welfare of the students, many of whom are among the most vulnerable and isolated in society, in jeopardy.

The loss of ESOL classes is likely to have disastrous consequences for the students. English language skills are a pre-requisite for citizenship and without them it is almost impossible to find a job.

Questions as to why these 300 students were enrolled in the first place remain unanswered. At a meeting with Manchester Refugee and Migrant Network, Marina Parha, the head of the department, refused to answer questions regarding this issue.

Earlier this year the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) announced a shake up of the ESOL system with large funding cuts that would result in the loss of places on the courses. It is rumoured that the college enrolled 400 students to the ESOL course, wrongly thinking that all of the teaching would be funded by the LSC. They were later told that the LSC would not meet the full requirement and so chose to cut the places.

Manchester Adult Educational Services (MAES) are currently attempting to reassign places to the students with the help of £450,000 from the City Council’s Working Neighbourhoods fund. However, many of the MAES courses are already over-subscribed and RAPAR say that it is unlikely that MAES will be able to take on all 300 of the students.

Currently 20 per cent of the students, mainly those based on the college’s Nicholls campus, are still waiting to hear if they will have a replacement course provided.

If they are found a place on a new course some of the students will have to travel long distances to their classes. Many are displaced persons and as such they are not legally entitled to work or receive cash benefits. This will mean they will have to choose between giving up their education or walking an extra ten miles a day to their classes.

RAPAR says the matter is not closed and it is working with the students and is continuing to seek answers from the college in order to help the students continue their education with as little interruption as possible.

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