AS MANY as eight teaching posts could be lost to Post Leaving Cert courses in Co Louth as a result of budget cuts as a result of a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio.
Co Louth VEC offers post leaving certificate courses on O'Fiaich Institute of Further Education, Dundalk and Drogheda Institute of Further Education.
Dr Pádraig Kirk, CEO, Co Louth VEC, informed member of the Co Louth VEC Committee that it has been announced that the pupil teacher ratio for Post-Leaving Certificate programmes was being harmonised with mainstream second level schools, from 17:1 to 19:1.
'For Co. Louth this means we stand to lose up to eight teaching posts across our two further education colleges, O'Fiaich Institute of Further Education and Drogheda Institute of Further Education'.
' The announcement had come as a major blow to the PLC sector and would have a profound impact on current levels of provision, said Dr Kirk.
He said he had already held meetings with the management of both colleges to 'quantify the impending impact and plan for the inevitable'.
However, due to the Committee's most efficient use of its resources both colleges manage to enrol considerably more students than their 1,160 cap. Currently, the VEC has 1,418 PLC students enrolled, a whopping 258 extra students above and beyond its allocation.
Dr. Kirk told the Committee that, ' the day of enrolling additional numbers of students over our capped number of places is coming to an end. The reduction in teacher allocation of the magnitude now expected will no longer allow us to enrol additional numbers of students, courses will have to be cut. This is bad news for everybody - the Committee, college management, teachers, and not least, our students'.
The CEO informed the members that, in all likelihood, the colleges may be required to displace new innovative work based courses because of staffing implications. 'Many of our QQI Level 6 courses that provide proven paths to employment and higher education are under threat'.
The Committee decided to write directly to the Department of Education and Skills seeking a reversal in the cut to the PLC PTR. The Government expects to secure net savings of €90 million in education spending in 2013, rising to €103 million in 2014 and €123 million in a full year. Notwithstanding, the Department of Education and Skills will require further savings of some €44 million in 2014 in order to live within its expenditure ceiling set for that year.