A COLLEGE head said staff redundancies were inevitable as St Mary’s College in Blackburn seeks to make up to £700,000 of cuts.

Kevin McMahon said the future of the college was safe, but unpopular decisions had to be made to reduce costs.

He said a drop in government funding for sixth-form colleges was forcing the management of the Shear Brow college to drastically cut outgoings – especially staffing costs.

Mr McMahon said: “There has been an ongoing tapering of funding, and the new funding means colleges are receiving less per student, but the costs remain the same.

“We are looking to make about £600,000 to £700,000 staff savings in the college. Not all these will be redundancies. There may be some areas where staff leave, or jobs are combined.

“We are looking at £100,000 to £200,000 of non-staffing savings. We are also looking for other avenues of funding.

“We have started the consultation process and a number of staff have already applied for voluntary redundancy. There are areas of the curriculum we are looking to make savings in. No areas of the curriculum have been suspended and we don’t want those people applying for courses to be anxious that their subject is not going to be maintained.

“There are some areas where numbers in classes are lower and that causes difficulties for them to be financially viable.

“The members of staff are contracted until the end of the summer term.

“We will try to keep the number of compulsory redundancies to a minimum.

“We are very sorry that there’s any need to be in this situation. That goes without saying. But we do also have to make the college financially viable.

“The college has always had a very robust entry and has been very popular. We are hopeful that the good results and very positive value added scores are the best advertisement for students coming to us.”

Mr McMahon said the college employed 100 teaching staff, 30 of whom are part-time, and 80 support staff, 39 of whom are part-time.

Simon Jones, Blackburn with Darwen secretary and national executive member of the NUT union, said he had received a number of calls and emails from concerned staff at the college.

“It’s devastating news. The college went through a round of redundancies only a year ago. Most people who wanted to leave, or retire early or take voluntary redundancy will have done it last year.

“It’s an extremely difficult situation and it’s going to have devastating consequences for the staff.”