The impact of austerity in Further Education: Cross-cultural perspectives from England and Ireland

O'Leary, Matt (2017) The impact of austerity in Further Education: Cross-cultural perspectives from England and Ireland. In: International and Comparative Education. Taylor & Francis, pp. 74-86.

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The financial crisis of 2008 heralded the advent of an ‘austerity’ agenda by many international governments, characterised by a series of cuts to public spending and tax increases. Since then, austerity measures in England and Ireland have left an indelible mark on the FE landscapes in both countries. In Ireland, the global credit crunch had a crippling effect on the economy, resulting in a public finance crisis that saw unemployment rise rapidly, culminating in a financial bailout by the EU and IMF in 2010. In England, FE suffered as a consequence of the government’s austerity agenda more than any other education sector. From 2010 to 2016, FE colleges endured repeated cuts to their budgets, leading to the closure of courses, departments and ongoing mass redundancies, whilst schools remained relatively unaffected with their funding ring-fenced. Yet the impact of this instability on the FE workforce in these two countries remains under-researched and underreported, making it all the more important to capture the voices of those who have been directly affected. From senior management to teaching and support staff, the cascading effects of austerity have been palpable at all levels. Drawing on interview and documentary data from original research conducted from 2015 to 2016, this chapter explores the impact of government austerity on the lives of the FE workforce and the communities they serve, while also reflecting on the importance of FE and its role in both countries’ education systems.

The chapter starts with a brief overview of the FE sectors in each country, comparing similarities and differences between the two. It then moves on to highlighting the consequences of government austerity from a policy perspective, leading into an exploration and discussion of research data that captures what this has meant for those working in FE, its impact on their professional lives and the students they cater for. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the current status of FE and how the changes experienced as a result of austerity are likely to shape its future course.

Item Type: Book Section
30 September 2017Published
Subjects: ?? X900 ??
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education (C-SPACE)
Depositing User: Matthew O'leary
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2019 09:30
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 17:01

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