Belfast Metropolitan College: Staff warned of 'tough times' due to cuts

Belfast Metropolitan College The Belfast Metropolitan College is the largest of six regional colleges, which have all been told to make contingency plans to save up to 15%

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The largest further education college in Northern Ireland has warned staff of tough times ahead due to the possibility of "severe budget cuts".

Trade unions met Belfast Metropolitan College bosses on Monday, but were given no firm details about how money would be saved.

All six of NI's regional colleges have been told to plan to save up to 15%.

The Department for Employment and Learning has warned of "unprecedented" cuts.

Belfast Metropolitan College must provide the department with cost-cutting ideas by the end of this month.

College bosses have told staff that a budget reduction of 15% would be of such magnitude that it would have a "significant impact" throughout the college.

It said it would be working over the next months to minimise the impact as far as possible.

'Cost-saving measures'

BBC Northern Ireland education correspondent Maggie Taggart said: "The college is obliged to inform unions by the end of this month if there is a threat of job cuts for next autumn.

"However, unions say they have had no estimate of how many redundancies there could be."

In a warning to colleges earlier this month, a senior official from the department asked the colleges to start looking for cost-saving measures for 2015/16 "in anticipation of severe budget cuts".

An earlier estimate of cuts amounting to 8% or 10% was increased to 15%.

The official said the "budgetary prospects" for 2015/16 appear "even bleaker" than they at first seemed.

The Belfast college has 34,000 students - that is almost a quarter of all college enrolments.

It also accounts for almost a quarter of the total college spending.

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