The Association of Colleges (AoC) say they are ‘disappointed’ that many unions will be protesting over pension cuts on November 30.

Evan Williams, Director of Employment at the AoC, said: “While sympathetic to employees’ anxiety about changes to their pension provision, AoC is disappointed by the unions’ decision to take national industrial action on Wednesday.

“We would have preferred to see the focus remain on meaningful national negotiations, aimed at ensuring pensions remain sustainable and affordable in the longer term, rather than see the work of college students disrupted.”

Mr Williams added: “Colleges are here for the long-term and carry heavy pension liabilities as a result of their ongoing commitment to their staff; colleges contribute some £½bn a year into pension schemes, making contributions of 14.1 per cent into the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and an average of 15.5 per cent into the Local Government Pension Scheme.”

Mr Williams said the government’s short-term savings could encourage teachers on lower salaries to opt out of scheme.

“The Hutton review makes some sensible suggestions for reforming public sector pensions in the long-term and for getting a better balance between different groups of staff and between employers and employees.

“But these changes won’t take effect until 2015. The Government is making some short-term savings over the next few years by raising staff contributions by an average of 3 per cent.

“We have some concerns that lower paid staff will leave the pension scheme as a result of these changes.”