UP TO 40 staff face losing their jobs at a popular college.

Support and admin posts under threat at the East Sussex College Group due to budget cuts.

A consultation process with staff and students at the College, which was formed when Sussex Downs College and Sussex Coast College merged. There are sites in Newhaven, Lewes, Eastbourne and Hastings.

A college spokesman said there is a demand for new courses in areas such as advanced manufacturing, robotics, surveying and digital marketing; and for more emphasis on popular subjects like visual and performing arts, psychology, forensic science, computing, film and construction.

He said: “Feedback has also highlighted a drop in levels of interest in some of the more traditional courses, which we will review and reshape.

“East Sussex College Group needs to react swiftly to these demands to ensure it remains an attractive option for students and adult learners across the county. The call for changes is set against a backdrop of an improved A-Level performance in the last academic year, but falling numbers of 16-18 year-olds across East and West Sussex over the last 10 years.”

He said all teaching posts are currently being safeguarded.

But there are up to 13 classroom support staff and 26 back office and admin full time roles under review. Talks are underway with unions and staff to explore alternatives to redundancies, including redeployment, the spokesman said.

He added: “The college is committed to completing this with sensitivity and diplomacy.

“The review of staffing numbers comes at a time of continued financial austerity. Government funding for colleges around the country has been trimmed by a further 8 per cent for 16-18 year olds and 30 per cent for adults. And while the budget has brought some good news for taxpayers and the NHS, there was no respite for Further Education.

“East Sussex College Group is getting its own finances in order. “The merger of Sussex Coast College (SCC) and Sussex Downs College (SDC) earlier this year highlighted that payroll costs at SCC were slightly above the sector average. But at SDC, payroll costs were significantly higher and did not reflect its falling income based on historic drops in student numbers and cut-backs in Government grants.

“Taking into consideration all these factors, the college group needs to take swift action to get its house in order.

Clive Cooke, chief executive officer of the East Sussex College Group added: “The merger has undoubtedly made us stronger and will ensure that we deliver excellent academic and vocational training to meet the needs of today’s students and local employers,” “The new leadership team is creating a dynamic and future-focused organisation to better serve the needs of our local communities,” “This does, however, mean tackling difficult and sensitive issues, including the need to streamline our teams to reflect current and future local needs and ensure our college prospers in a challenging funding environment. We are committed to sitting down with our colleagues and union representatives to make these changes with compassion and understanding.”