The number of part-time students in the South-east is expected to grow at less than half the rate of the rest of the country.
Home counties colleges are bucking the more robust national trend, where part-time provision is projected to increase by more than a quarter between now and 1998. Their lack of confidence, revealed in an analysis of strategic plans for the region published by the Further Education Funding Council, reflects growing concern over competition with schools and other colleges.
More colleges are admitting now that rivalry for students could jeopardise future expansion, and are reining in growth predictions. Managers also fear cuts in discretionary awards which are being made by cash-strapped local authorities.
Cuts, biting particularly deeply in Kent, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, have also drastically hit transport support. Concern over axed subsidies is significantly higher in the South-east than in the rest of the country. The two reductions in LEA support combine to deter hard-up students from enrolling at college.
South-east colleges believe they will fare particularly badly in hotel and catering, construction and business.