Employers and union forge new coalition for cash as further education collges plunge deeper into debt
The oldest college in the country is also the lowest-funded in its region. People's College, Nottingham was forced in to a deficit of more than Pounds 2 million in 1995/96 in order to bring its buildings up to date and began using up its reserves.
"We can't continue to do that," said principal John Rudd.
If the college had been funded at the average rate Mr Rudd would have had an extra Pounds 1 million in his bank account and would not be needing to make quite such painful savings. "If the government doesn't bring in convergence of funding between colleges we will have no meat left and will begin to hack away at our skeleton," he said.
"If it takes two years to bring in the level playing field it may be too late for us. We cannot continue offering our current level of provision without significant reductions in staffing and a major impact on our service."
Now the spending programme is over, consultants are analysing how the college can become more efficient even though it is operating at the margins.
"The plan now is to live within our means and reaccumulate our reserves," Mr Rudd said. "But the people of Nottingham deserve the same funding as the citizens of Sheffield or London. Instead they get Pounds 600 or Pounds 700 less."