Fife College is to axe its student numbers by over 3500 in the next term.
It currently has 7,210 full time and 11,519 part time students - but those figures are set to be culled with the loss of 3610 spaces, mostly in part time courses.
Part time study is a way for those most locked out of education to learnAlasdair Clark, vice-president of education and representation at Fife College Student’s Union
The college has blamed a 20 per cent cut in funding for the significant impact on places it could offer.
There is a small increase in the number of full time places by 34 - but the cuts have been criticised.
Alasdair Clark, vice-president of education and representation at Fife College Student’s Union, said they would hit the “most disadvantaged” students.
He added: “Part time study is a way for those most locked out of education to learn, from single parents, mature students and those in receipt of out of work benefits,” he said.
Mr Clark added he didn’t blame the college for the cuts, saying the fault lay firmly with the current Scottish Government.
“It has had a lot of rhetoric around helping people to learn and it’s past time that it started to act on this.
“The Government doesn’t like to acknowledge what’s wrong. It will concentrate on the 34 full time places but choose to ignore the thousands who will miss out.”
Robert Foster, vice president of NUS Scotland called on the Government to take action to stop cuts in further education.
“These cuts which came at a time of huge change in the college sector have had a negative impact on students and staff within our colleges.
“The time has come for the Scottish Government to put its hands up to the mistakes that have been made in the past and invest the funding that’s necessary to get our colleges back on track.”
But Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance defended the Government’s record on education saying it has spent more than any previous administration and claimed the cuts at Fife College were on “leisure” courses.
“SNP spending is still higher than any previous Labour Government,” he said. “Many of the courses being cut are those which have no qualifications at the end of them.
“The Government has a commitment to funding full time courses with positive outcomes and increased job opportunities.”
Mr Torrance admitted that the number of courses cut appeared “severe” and said he will be requesting a meeting with Fife College principal Hugh Logan “at the earliest opportunity.”
A college spokesman said the funding gap would ‘‘have a detrimental effect on our ability to recruit students.’’
She added: ‘‘We are committed to ensuring we maximise opportunities for students throughout Fife.”