A university in Essex is the first in Britain to introduce a four-day workweek amid the cost of living crisis.
South Essex College students receive the same amount of face-to-face learning hours between Monday and Thursday, with classrooms now closed on Fridays.
Instead, the college, which teaches students from 14 to college students and adults, will now encourage its students to complete “independent study” while teachers catch up on administrative tasks and markings.
The move has sparked anger among parents who claim it is simply passing college energy costs on to individual households.
With campuses in Basildon, Southend and Thurrock, more than 12,000 students and 1,000 employees will be affected by the change.
A parent of a sophomore on the Basildon campus told the Southend Echo: ‘I find it disgusting that parents are expected to pay more for their electricity bills, as the students now use electricity at home on Fridays.
South Essex College is the first in Britain to introduce a four-day workweek due to the cost of living crisis – instead telling students to do their homework on Fridays
“I couldn’t believe it when my son came home and told me the news.”
A social media user posted her thoughts on the change online: ‘If this is the case, gas and electric companies should be brought in to reduce their costs.
“There is enough effect on the education of our children, gas and electricity costs should NOT affect the education of the children. Wtf is going on with this world!’
Another user said the change was only intended to give teachers a four-day week.
She said, ‘You just have to put on more clothes, as we all will have to do. Tired of fucking teachers moaning all the time.”
But the college has maintained that students will not be disadvantaged by the schedule change.
A college spokesperson told MailOnline: “The college is continuously looking at how we can improve the delivery of our facility. In addition, we have rosters over four days a week, for several advantages.
‘It gives teachers time to mark and finalize the administration, so that we can take full advantage of the benefits we have learned over the years. This also allows students to study independently while preparing for higher education or employment.
“It’s important to remember that university is different from school in that independent study time is always included in all supervised learning schedules scheduled for three or four days a week.
“It’s true that cost pressures on utilities and other elements of college running have led us to look for ways to make savings that don’t impact students or staff.
‘This decision will not penalize the students, because no study time is lost and no classes are scheduled for Fridays. Instead, this day will include the independent study time that is part of each course.’
The spokesperson also added that the move gives teachers the “dedicated time” to complete “grading and management” and “making the most of the benefits we have learned over the years.”
The move has sparked anger with parents who claim it is simply passing college energy costs on to individual households
South Essex College, with EastEnders actress Maisie Smith and TV presenter Ross Kemp among its alumni, teaches A-Levels and vocational courses, including BTECs and apprenticeships, as well as higher education degrees.
It was revealed last month that school leaders in the UK would consider shorter school weeks to help pay for teachers’ salary increases and ever-growing energy bills.
The principal of Southend High School for Boys in Essex, Dr. Robin Bevan, told The Telegraph: ‘If long-awaited investments in school fees above inflation are not made, sooner or later it will become a realistic prospect.’
According to the Association of Colleges, annual energy bills for many colleges such as South Essex have risen by more than £1 million, with some in particular reportedly being hit by ‘fourfold increases’.
The Association’s director told the publication: “Colleagues are looking at their finances and exploring every available avenue to address unprecedented budgetary challenges caused by rising inflation and rising energy costs, while maintaining quality education for students.”