FORTY jobs are at risk at Rotherham’s biggest college group after bosses’ revealed financial troubles — in the same week staff were left out in the cold after the college refused to turn the heating back on.
RNN Group — which manages University Centre Rotherham, Rotherham College and Dearne Valley College — launched a formal consultation process with staff as part of a “series of proposed cost-saving measures”.
The group blamed “increased employer costs” and a “reduction in income across all funding streams” and said the pressure was being felt across the further education sector.
Teaching and non-teaching staff will be affected across all campuses but not in all departments, an RNN spokesman confirmed.
He added: “During the consultation process, we are looking at various options with staff and trade unions to achieve cost savings and the number of posts which will be made redundant is not yet confirmed.
“We anticipate it will be approximately 40 of the RNN Group’s 1,200 members of staff.”
Unions have urged the group to rule out any job losses and look at other options.
The consultation was launched on May 23 — the same month Ofsted criticised the group for a “significant decline” in standards — and will conclude in July.
University and College Union (UCU) regional officer Julie Kelley said: “Axing staff has a damaging impact on those left behind to pick up the slack and risk restricting opportunities for local students.
“The college needs to rule out compulsory redundancies and work with the unions on how best to secure a successful future for the college, staff and students.”
Government inspectors rated the RNN Group as “requires improvement” and highlighted several areas for concern including leadership, apprentices’ results and a lack of consistency in teaching across its campuses.
The group, which has 15,000 learners on its Rotherham courses and those at North Notts College, runs apprenticeships through its RNN Training division and took over responsibility for community learning from Rotherham Borough Council in 2017.
The spokesman said the group needed to make “significant savings” and was exploring various options with recognised trade unions, including staffing reorganisation and other cost savings.
Chief executive and principal Jason Austin said Colleges faced “an extremely challenging time”, with year-on-year real terms government funding cuts, increased competition and “declining demographics”.
He added: “There is no financial support available — colleges will no longer be bailed out by the Government. We simply have to reduce the operating deficit.
“We obviously clearly regret having to put colleagues’ jobs at risk, but we have no alternative.”
A Rotherham College worker, who wished to remain anonymous, also blasted college bosses for refusing to turn the heating back on last week, saying: “This is how the management feel about the wellbeing of their workers.”
An email to staff acknowledged that, due to the recent cool and wet weather, “the buildings have started to drop their internal temperatures to where staff are feeling the change and are feeling cold”.
But due to “the long-range weather forecast” and the “time it will take to bring the heating back online”, staff were told the boilers would stay off.
The spokesman refused to comment on the heating issue.