A CASH-STRAPPED further education college in Southampton is facing an uncertain future, it has been revealed.

The future of City College Southampton “beyond this academic year is not known” and the life outcomes of its students “are at risk as a result”.

The news revealed in official documents published by Southampton City Council comes while the college is operating on government bailouts.

The outcome of a review of post-16 education in Southampton and the surrounding area is set to be published later this year.

But City College bosses said they expect the review to include a recommendation for City College to merge with another college.

Cllr James Baillie, cabinet member for education at the city council, said: “We will continue to work with national government and education providers.

“While it is too early to know the outcomes from this process, in all circumstances the council would continue to do everything it could to ensure that there is sufficient suitable education and training for young people in the city who are over compulsory school age.”

Merger attempts between City College and other providers over the past six years have fallen through due to the associated financial risk, the city council report revealed.

The most recent attempts include those with Itchen College in September 2020 and Eastleigh College in 2021, according to the report.

Cllr Darren Paffey, shadow cabinet member for education in Southampton, said he hopes that plans for city colleges “can finally make the progress needed to secure the colleges’ futures”.

Referring to City College, in the official report city bosses said: “Despite there being a clear need for vocational provision in the city, its future beyond this academic year is not known. Seventy-five per cent of the students at City College come from disadvantaged backgrounds and their life outcomes are at risk as a result.”

In 2020 City College bosses were asked to continue to work with education chiefs on finding a solution “to the on-going challenge of inadequate financial health”.

College bosses said the Department for Education (DfE) continues to support City College “as it has recognised that City College’s provision is essential to Southampton”.

In an official statement City College added: “The college serves the most disadvantaged students in the city and it remains the only provider of technical and professional education in Southampton. Applications for this academic year were 16 per cent up.”

Talking about the review commissioned by the DfE, college bosses added: “City College’s expectation is that such a review will include a recommendation that it merges with another college, which the college’s leadership team believes is the right way forward.”

The DfE said the Education and Skills Funding Agency is working to support City College Southampton.