Local communities in East London are to benefit from a bold decision taken by managers at one of the UK's largest college groups. New City College has announced that it is to waive fees for its ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses in 2018/19 across Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Redbridge.
The Government has introduced new funding rules which mean that many, but not all, adult students can study for free in the 2018/19 year. But New City College will extend this to all adult ESOL students.
"As a group, New City College is large enough to think boldly and act flexibly, for the benefit of our local communities", said Chief Executive & Group Principal Gerry McDonald.
"We welcome the new funding rules but recognise that fees would still be a barrier for some of the people who most need to study English to progress in their careers. As one of the country's largest providers of ESOL, we have the resources to make sure that this significant group of East Londoners are not disadvantaged, by eliminating ESOL course fees irrespective of learners' circumstances."
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New City College teaches ESOL to around 3000 adults each year.
The courses, English for Speakers of Other Languages, are run at many different levels to suit people whether they are just starting to learn English, or if they need to focus specifically on reading, speaking or writing English to reach qualification or career goals.
The college has developed specialist ESOL courses to respond to local demand, for example for minicab drivers and for the fashion and textiles industry.
The college offers these classes at its main campuses as well as in numerous community venues.
New City College was created by the mergers of Tower Hamlets College, Hackney Community College and Redbridge College.
In total, the group has 20,000 students each year across almost all subject areas, and also includes an A Level Academy in London E1.