The threat of record job losses is hanging over colleges as latest figures reveal lecturer redundancies are on course to outstrip last year's total of 1,500.
Colleges have told NATFHE, the lecturers' union, they plan to make 1,666 full-time lecturing staff redundant, many compulsorily, by September. Worst-hit regions are the East Midlands, with 269 jobs set to go, and the South-west, with 238 facing the axe.
Also this week, research commissioned by the Association for Colleges revealed colleges spent almost Pounds 165 million on redundancy costs between 1993 and 1995.
NATFHE, which this week lobbied Parliament to protest against an ever-tightening funding squeeze in further and higher education, warned that new recommendations from Government curriculum adviser Sir Ron Dearing would "fall on stony ground" without more cash. The union said the total redundancies for 1995-96 could be even higher than 1,666. Fewer losses in some colleges because of negotiations would be outweighed by more from others later in the year.
Restructuring in colleges and the pressures of deficit budgets were behind the latest redundancies, it said. Trends included replacing lecturers in some craft subjects with lower-paid instructor-grade staff, and reductions in management as colleges reabsorbed separate departments set up at the time of incorporation.
Spending per student in FE colleges will drop by around 16 per cent over the next three years, while capital cash for buildings, equipment and new technology will plummet by 63 per cent.
NATFHE general secretary John Akker said: "Thousands of lecturers are being left to bear the brunt of a crisis not of their own making." The union urged ministers to reverse cuts imposed in last November's budget settlement.
John Brennan, AFC policy director, said: "We see these redundancy figures as an expression of the financial pressure being placed on colleges to achieve growth and efficiency."
AFC research into FE funding revealed the sector expected to trade at a loss of Pounds 130 million in the year to August 1995, compared with an actual loss of Pounds 8.9 million the previous year.
The first clear indications of the impact of continuing funding pressures on jobs came this week as a new player entered the market for providing part-time staff.
Manchester-based Nord Anglia Education launched a national employment service for lecturers. in competition with Education Lecturing Services, the firm which has sparked controversy amid union accusations that it offers part-timers a worse deal than they get as college employees.
Nord Anglia said it had moved to extend a pilot scheme in the North-west after being approached by colleges in London and other areas. It denied colleges were turning to part-timers as a replacement for redundant full-time staff.
North-west regional manager Nigel Ganly said: "Permanent personnel are going in areas such as construction and engineering where the course will simply not be able to survive. If the provision is not required or is not economical it is going to die."
Nord Anglia's move could pave the way for agency wars between itself and ELS, which has been providing lecturers since September.