A UNION representative claims over 50 employees could lose their jobs at a college which has campuses across the county.

The proposed redundancies at Heart of Worcestershire College will be mainly restricted to support staff, according to the union Unison.

Peter Fennell, a Unison representative, acknowledges the need for savings at the college but wants to see voluntary redundancies instead.

The cuts have been made as a result of the falling number of students attending further education colleges.

Mr Fennell said: “Over 50 people are being made redundant across all of the campuses.

“There are a few lecturers among them. But all the rest of the people are employed business support staff.

“We are very unhappy about the situation the college is in. They are currently consulting but they [the redundancies] will take effect within a few weeks.

“We would urge that there should not be compulsory redundancies, if they have to reduce numbers it should be voluntary redundancies.

“We have to acknowledge that the college is facing considerable financial difficulty because they haven’t been able to get the number of students in.”

Mr Fennell claims the college suffered a £615,000 full-year deficit in December 2016, compared with a budgeted £163,000 surplus.

“The vast majority of their spending goes on staff. Something like 80 per cent of their spending I would think,” he said.

He added that the issue of fewer students attending further education colleges has been caused by a number of factors.

These include the rise of sixth forms in schools, the increasing popularity of universities and the declining quality of college courses.

“The reason people [foreigners] are coming over to get jobs is partly because we are not producing enough people with these skills,” he said.

“Colleges in the past attracted people looking for a vocational education. There are still trade courses but my feeling is they are not of such quality courses as they once were.

“The massive cut in funding in this sector in the last 20 years or so have forced some of the colleges to close and most colleges to merge.”

A Hear of Worcestershire College spokesman said: "We have been working with staff throughout the consultation period to mitigate the number of jobs at risk.

"We have accepted a number of voluntary redundancies which has meant we have successfully and significantly reduced the number of jobs at risk at the college.

"We will continue to work with staff and support them during this period."

The college has campuses in Worcester, Malvern, Redditch and Bromsgrove.

The support staff at-risk are reportedly technicians, personal tutors, learning support employees, human relations staff and other administrative roles.