By Claire West
A massive 93% of colleges have axed jobs and 80% have cut courses and resources, a survey by UNISON and UCU has found. The unions fear that many students will be cut out of education completely, as further funding is slashed.
The findings reveal the funding shambles that has already hit further education. The unions are warning that colleges have already been cut to the bone - any further and they will crumble - as more than half of colleges surveyed (53%) say they plan to make further redundancies and course closures over the coming months.
Support staff have taken the hardest hit amongst workers, making up 45% of the job cuts and 34 colleges have had to turn learners away.
Chris Fabby UNISON National Officer for Further Education, said:
"Colleges are being cut to the quick. They have already axed a huge number of jobs and courses. We fear for the future, as the survey shows that the worst is yet to come.
"Students are being forced out of further education altogether, as EMA, fee remission and courses are slashed. These cuts are devastating learners, communities and local economies.
"College bosses should be cautious - job cuts and course closures will damage their competitiveness and their ability to attract students in the future. Colleges need to put jobs cuts on hold and get round the table with unions to look at alternatives to redundancies and course closures.
"These cuts are hitting the most deprived areas the hardest. A fair future for all is worth fighting for and we will take action to protect jobs."
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said:
"In the week that Nick Clegg spoke about the importance of social mobility, this survey highlights the true cost of the government's cuts to education. Rather than helping to fund the very courses that people need to realise their potential, the government is slashing college budgets, putting teachers on the dole queue and removing vital lifelines such as the education maintenance allowance.
"Education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet when it comes to helping people climb the social ladder, yet since this government took power it has made it much harder for people to have a second chance. It is essential that colleges join with us in opposing these cuts and are not panicked in to make short-term changes that will do lasting damage to their local communities."