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Staff beg for paper as cash runs out

A cash-strapped college is seeking to sack 60 staff and has issued a "paper ban" in desperate measures to balance the books.

Staff at Preston College in Lancashire must obtain a chit signed by a director before they can access paper and other resources, which is often taking a week to be processed.

One lecturer, who asked not to be named, told said: "On a Monday morning I am unable to get anything ready for class as there is no paper. The current ban on paper, photocopying, overhead transparencies and any other resource which may be needed for the classroom has left me absolutely dumbfounded.

"I don't know how my colleagues and I can possibly hope to achieve anything like this."

The college, which has a total budget of pound;36 million, is undertaking a major cost-cutting exercise after it suffered a pound;2.3m deficit in 2001-2 and sustained further losses in the last financial year.

It is the sixth largest college in the UK with 1,300 staff and 4,000 full-time and 16,000 part-time students. Lecturers' union official Peter Richardson, the college's Natfhe representative, said staff have to wait up to a week to obtain essential resources.

"The management is looking to make economies wherever it can," he added.

"Clearly it is making life much harder for our members."

College principal Stuart Ingleson confirmed that the college has applied for 60 staff redundancies in forms submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry, but said the actual number of job losses is likely to be less than that.

He said: "I believe we have taken all the necessary steps to put us back on track to be in a healthy financial position in the next two years.

"We have introduced tight systems of controls across all our spending. That is good housekeeping. We have agreed a financial programme with our local learning and skills council and I am absolutely confident we will be able to deliver within that.

"I don't think we are atypical and we are not in the worst position in the sector. We have obviously, as a big institution, experienced most of the vagaries of all the current issues across our funding streams."

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