Scotland’s largest college has announced plans to cut up to 100 jobs in a bid to tackle a £6m deficit.
City of Glasgow College described the move as a “last resort” as it looks to tackle a “substantial real-terms” cut to college funding in Scotland.
It follows the loss of £26m from the sector’s budget, which has been compounded by “rising inflation, spiralling energy costs, and increased staff costs”.
In a letter seen by STV News, college bosses told staff they had already made £6m of savings by freezing vacancies and implementing a voluntary severance scheme, which will see 76 workers leave.
But that still leaves a gap of £6m for the college to plug.
With a majority of its spending being on staff, according to City of Glasgow College, it is now looking to cut further jobs, with at least 75 employees being made redundant.
A consultation process was launched on Wednesday and will last for 45 days.
Principal and CEO of City of Glasgow College, Paul Little, said: “The loss yesterday of £26m from the college sector’s budget further compounds significant financial pressures from real-term funding cuts, rising inflation, spiralling energy costs, and increased staff costs.
“Given the scale of the funding challenges, the college has a substantial multi-year forecast budget deficit to address.
“Despite these budgetary improvements, we are also forced to address a funding shortfall of £6m next year and, regrettably, have exhausted all other possibilities except the last resort of proposing 75 compulsory redundancies, subject to consultation with our staff and trade unions.
“When colleges thrive, Scotland’s economy thrives and we are at the forefront of tackling skills shortages and closing skills gaps.”
Unions criticised Little, who they say did not appear at the meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the proposed job cuts.
A spokesperson for the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and the Further Lecturer’s Associaton said: “We were given no prior sight of what college management has stated is a substantial business case behind the proposals to make up to 100 staff redundant.
“It is ridiculous that trade union representatives are supposed to be in a legal consultation process when we have not even seen the detail of this proposed restructure.”
EIS national officer, Stuart Brown, added: “Our members have begun a campaign of action short of strike to push back against these cuts, to defend jobs and also defend the principle of quality further education in the heart of Glasgow.
“We reserve the right to escalate this campaign to strike action if necessary. We are fighting for the future of further education and we do not accept the further education colleges need to be cut back to the bone in the manner that City of Glasgow are proposing.”
It is the first time in the college’s history that staff layoffs have been proposed.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are facing the most challenging financial environment since devolution and very difficult decisions across portfolios have had to be made.
“As a result of these pressures, the additional uplift of £26m for colleges and £20m for universities announced as part of the 2023/24 Budget can no longer be provided this year.
“This decision does not affect the core settlement for the sectors. SFC has already announced indicative funding allocations for colleges and universities on 13 April 2023.
“We recognise that the future financial position remains exceptionally challenging. Whilst it is for each individual college to determine how best to secure its sustainability while continuing to deliver provision that meets regional needs, we expect, as part of our Fair Work approach, that employers, workers and trade unions should work together to reach the right decisions and ensure workers are treated fairly, and every effort is made to reach a pay settlement that is fair and affordable.
“The Scottish Government continues to spend nearly £2bn a year on Scotland’s universities and colleges through the SFC alone. Research and innovation funding for universities has increased, with additional funding allocated for high-priority maintenance across college estates.”