Lecturers' union leaders have condemned as "educational vandalism" plans to axe 180 jobs at Britain's biggest further education college, writes Tony Tysome.
Representatives of Natfhe, the college lecturers' union, said they would be calling for a ballot on industrial action following an emergency meeting with Sheffield College managers on Tuesday.
College chiefs want to slice Pounds 3.6 million from their staffing budget by the beginning of the next academic year to put the college on the road to recovery.
The move is part of a plan to restructure the college into three institutions, recommended following a Further Education Funding Council review. FEFC inspectors warned that the college was financially weak, poorly managed and failing to meet the educational needs of its community.
Managers told Natfhe representatives they needed to find 180 voluntary redundancies by October 9 and had to put a new staffing structure in place by September. They refused to guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies. About 70 management and 35 lecturers' posts will be among the job losses.
Russ Escritt, Natfhe regional branch officer, said managers were storing up serious problems for themselves by trying to rush through mass redundancies without proper consultation.
"They say they want the college to grow by 3 per cent over the next year, but it's not clear who will be left to do the work. It is inevitable that the burden of managing big changes will fall upon lecturers with so many management posts being cut. The inevitable result will be that the quality of what the college provides will suffer," he said.