The first national talks for nearly five months in the dispute over new contracts for further education lecturers were said to be "heavy going"
Arbitration was raised as a possible way out of deadlock between the Colleges' Employers' Forum and lecturers' unions, represented by Natfhe and the ATL.
Their meeting on Wednesday followed a lengthy exchange of written statements and a round of pre-talk talks to establish fresh procedures and objectives.
Before the talks began, Sue Berryman, Natfhe negotiating secretary said: "Natfhe remains determined to oppose key elements of the CEF contract and to seek a negotiated settlement.
"Negotiation requires compromise but the national employers will have to compromise too. Our strategy of local negotiations is pushing them in that direction."
Peter Smith, ATL general secretary, speaking during the course of the talks, said: "It was like trying to sprint over quick-drying cement."
The last national negotiations broke up on September 16 but the framework for the new talks was set at a meeting on January 18.
Opinions vary as to how many lecturers have settled for locally-negotiated compromise contracts. Natfhe says about 40 colleges have already reached agreement.