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Students demo after massive college cuts

17:21 25 March 2010

STUDENTS from a college campus earmarked for closure have united to protest against the controversial plans. The action was taken after the College of North West London (CNWL) announced it would be suspending lessons at its £5.5 million centre in Priory

STUDENTS from a college campus earmarked for closure have united to protest against the controversial plans.

The action was taken after the College of North West London (CNWL) announced it would be suspending lessons at its £5.5 million centre in Priory Park Road, Kilburn, for at least a year from September.

The college has been desperately trying to balance its books following a series of Government cuts, which has left it with a £3.2m shortfall.

On Saturday, college students, staff and supporters highlighted the plight of CNWL and other adult educational institutions across the country, by petitioning shoppers in Kilburn High Road.

The signatures have since been delivered to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.

CNWL, that has two other campuses in Willesden and Wembley, has been struggling financially since the Government-run Learning and Skills Council (LSC) slashed the amount of funding given to adult courses three years ago.

Since then CNWL has undertaken a series of cost-cutting measures, including axing courses and slashing staff numbers. The Kilburn campus, which first opened as Willesden Polytechnic in 1895, reopened as a multi-million development that included a state-of-the-art block boasting a host of ecological features just three years ago.

Indro Sen, University and College Union branch secretariat CNWL, said the governors of the college need to reconsider the plans. He said: "We are very concerned because of the disadvantage students at Kilburn will be facing as a result of the site closure. Particularly when it was only built three years ago.

"Given that Kilburn has many disadvantaged residents we are asking the governors of the college to reconsider the position. Not only will students have no where to study but lecturers will be out of a job."

Cllr Mary Arnold, Labour councillor for the Kilburn ward, said she intends to take the issue to the House of Commons.

She said: "We are lobbying ministers to let them know about this situation and make sure that the building is kept for learning.

"It's devastating for students and for people in Kilburn, which is one the most disadvantaged wards in the country, that this state-of-the art new building is going to be out of use."

Vicki Fagg, CNWL principal, said the college's other campuses in Willesden and Wembley, will be offering additional places to students to compensate for the closure.

She added: "Regrettably, some job losses are inevitable, as staffing is the biggest element of the college's expenditure.

"We will be working hard to ensure that, despite the financial challenges we will be facing, we continue to live up to our reputation for helping our students succeed in their studies and careers."

l Will the campus closure effect on your studies? If so, call the news desk on 020 7433 6228 or email lorraine.king@archant.co.uk

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