Published: 11:00, 08 June 2016
| Updated: 12:30, 08 June 2016
Canterbury College is preparing to axe its entire A-level department and make 28 people redundant as part of a massive cost-cutting drive.
Senior managers broke the news to shocked staff on Friday when it was also announced the college is poised to scrap its IT Academy.
The move will leave desperate A-level students rushing to find alternative places to finish their studies - and frustrate others who planned to start at the college in September.
But bosses insist they are first consulting on the proposals and will make any students affected know about its plans.
On Friday, staff were called into the boardroom, where they were given the news by chairman of governors Colin Carmichael and principal Alison Clarke, who will retire at the end of July.
Her position will be deleted as the college merges with East Kent College, with its principal Graham Razey taking over the running of both.
This week Ms Clarke told the Gazette: “Currently our A-level provision makes a loss of £200,000 per year due to the small classroom sizes and high staff to pupil ratio, and we are duplicating the work of other local schools, sixth forms and academies.
“With strong A-level provision across Canterbury and the wider catchment area of the college, it means that there are many alternative providers to support our students already doing A-levels or looking to start this September.”
The college says if its 92 A-level students cannot find alternative places, it will accommodate them on its New Dover Road campus.
The students who also applied to start A-levels in September will also be told of their options. It is expecting around 150 A-level students to have registered for a place by September.
The management of the newly joined colleges is looking to identify savings of £1 million between them.
They propose to close the IT Academy at Canterbury as part of the reorganisation.
Mr Carmichael, who is also the chief executive of Canterbury City Council, described the IT closure as a “difficult decision”.
He said: “Despite our efforts to improve the quality of the training on offer, we have continued to see our success rates significantly below the national average, and Ofsted described our IT offering as inadequate.
“We had two options – continue to try and turn it around, or look at alternative providers.
“Given that a large proportion of students travel from Ashford, Dover and Shepway, where IT courses are available it was felt that the best option was to stop offering IT courses at our Canterbury campus.
“At the same time as minimising the impact on students, the decision will also enable us to make savings of more than £470,000 for the academic year 2016/17, important given the college’s financial situation.”
One member of staff who attended Friday’s announcement said: “We were summoned to an urgent meeting with the principal and the chairman of governors.
“We were kept waiting for some time as all the senior staff were in a meeting with the principal
“When their meeting broke up several of the senior staff were very visibly shaken by whatever they had heard and at least one member of staff was in tears.
“It was quite a shock to hear that there would be a consultation although it seems that there is this definite push towards ending the A-level provision. No one now really knows what will happen.”