Students who claim their lives have been transformed by further education were in Westminster this week demanding more money for post-16 education.
The Association of Colleges organised the gathering as it presented a petition from more than 62,000 people calling for more cash for adult students and the closure of the funding gap between colleges and schools.
Protesters included Brenda Lee, 70, whose art course at Grantham college is threatened with closure. She said: "After working most of my adult life my dream was to take up art on retirement."
Natfhe, the lecturers' union, supported the petition, with thousands of its own members adding their names. Barry Lovejoy, Natfhe's head of colleges, said: "Thousands of Natfhe members working in FE signed this petition because, every day, they see the damaging effects of the unjust 13 per cent funding gap between colleges and schools, and of the diminishing pot of public money for colleges' popular work with adults. We urge the Government to take steps to prevent colleges from being irrecoverably damaged."
Jenny Gribble, 17, is studying for a care diploma at Weston college, Somerset, which the AoC says would be pound;600,000-a-year better-off if it was funded in the same way as schools for its teenage students.
Amrik Perera, 27, works at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, north London, which has won awards for its work with students with severe learning difficulties, including autism. The college is raising more money from fees and searching for charitable donations as a result of cuts to its budget.