A north east college has put around 50 jobs at risk in a bid to make savings of £1 million, citing under-recruitment of students in several areas.
Tyne Coast College expects to make 22 posts – or 17 full-time equivalent posts – redundant in addition to placing a hiring freeze on non-critical staff. It will also not fill the nine currently vacant posts “to mitigate redundancy” and offer voluntary redundancy elsewhere.
The move has angered the University and College Union, who labelled the proposal as a “kick in the teeth for hard-working staff”.
Tyne Coast College’s proposal follows a series of strikes from staff, who took to the picket lines last June and September over low pay, and the controversial closure of its sixth form.
Tyne Coast College chief executive Lindsey Whiterod told FE Week: “Efficiencies need to be made due to under-recruitment in certain curriculum areas for 16 to 18 learners, as well as apprenticeships and higher education.”
The college recruited 2,200 16 to 18-year-old students in 2022/23, a drop from 2,400 in the previous academic year.
However, the college saw 100 more apprentices and the same number of higher education students – 1,100 – in 2023 compared to the year before. It did report a drop in adult learners from 4,600 to 4,000 in 2022/23.
The college’s enrolment figures for 2023/24 are not yet publicly available.
According to its 2023 financial accounts, the college generated a deficit of £3.3 million, down from a £3.5 million deficit the year prior.
Whiterod said the college needed to make necessary savings worth £1 million.
But, this is not the first time the college has made headlines this year.
Bosses had proposed to close its sixth form – Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College in Wallsend — abruptly last summer due to a decline in numbers. The decision was delayed by one year after community backlash. It will now close at the end of this academic year.
Staff had agreed to strikes in October over a three per cent pay award but were called off at the last minute after a better deal was reached.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Coming so soon after strike action over low pay and the closure of an entire sixth form campus, this is a real kick in the teeth for hard-working staff at Tyne Coast College.
“Management has yet to provide any information to substantiate claims it has to sack staff and unless it starts engaging meaningfully in the consultation process the college is at risk of acting unlawfully.
“North and south of the Tyne, our members have continued to give everything to their jobs and the education of our local communities. Being told they are no longer wanted less than halfway through the academic year will not be a welcome message.”