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Kingston College principal warns of cuts and possible job losses
Kingston College is facing the prospect of cuts and possible job losses after its principal warned he could not rule out redundancies among its 500 staff next year.
The college, whose financial health is forecasted to be rated “good” by the Skills Funding Agency, made a surplus of about £100,000 on its £30m budget last year.
But principal Peter Mayhew-Smith said: “The Government has been cutting our budget ruthlessly since I started here – they have cut us hard. Next year is looking a bit grim.
“We don’t get our funding allocation through until Easter. I don’t know the full picture yet – but [redundancies] are not impossible. I cannot rule it out.”
He said the budget had suffered partly due to under-recruiting last year which meant the money given by Government would be less in the future.
About 10 redundancies have been made and 100 staff not replaced in Mr Mayhew-Smith’s four-year tenure, but he said a federation with Carshalton College had helped finances.
David Coy, branch secretary of the University and College Union at Kingston College, said: “In recent years we have not had more than a handful of redundancies.
“We hope that remains the case, but we do appreciate that further education has budget cuts and pressures across the whole country. We are working in difficult times.”
The college currently has ongoing building works for a new arts building in Richmond Road funded by its surplus which is expected to open early next year.
A spokeswoman from the Association of Colleges said: “[Colleges] are being forced to adapt to stringent financial circumstances.
“This means many of our members have been faced with challenging decisions around their course provision which has in some cases resulted in restructuring and redundancies.”
Councillor David Ryder-Mills, Liberal Democrat spokesman for continuing education, said: “Like all of us in the public sector, we are very aware that the next few years are going to be just as difficult financially.”
Laurie South, chairman of Kingston’s Labour Party, said: “The trouble is colleges are funded centrally. If you are going to make cuts it has to be staffing but that ultimately affects students.”
Kingston Councillor David Cunningham, Conservative spokesman for continuing education, said: “It would be a pity to see a cutback in their activities.”
A Department for Education spokesman said it was only reducing funding for 18 year olds in further education to put college students on the same rate as sixth form students, capped at a 2 per cent cut.
Kingston and Surbiton MP Edward Davey said he would be contacting the principal to see what lay behind his fears.
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