A GROUP of college students who launched a petition demanding extra funding have raised nearly 64,000 signatures.

A-level students at Brockenhurst College say the amount of money the government gives to colleges has fallen by almost 30 per cent in real terms over the past ten years.

An online petition was due to be presented in the House of Commons on Thursday.

A college spokesman said: “The document highlights how government funding has been cut while school sixth forms have been less affected.

“A recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies described 16-18 college education as ‘the biggest loser from education spending changes over the last 25 years’.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, nine students travelled to Westminster last month to raise the issue with Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East.

Politics student Charlotte Jones, who started the petition, said: “The inequality between pre-16 funding in secondary schools and that received for 16-18 funding in colleges has been a long-term issue.

“If we all had equal funding it would be a fair playing field - everyone would be on the same level.”

Some of the issues cited by the petition include a smaller choice of courses and extra pressure on staff, including larger workloads.

College principal Di Roberts said: “We have increasingly found that our agility has been tested as an organisation to provide a consistently high standard of education and training for our students and apprentices.

“Over the last decade we have seen an ongoing lack of investment from the government.

“We want to continue to invest in our facilities and our highly-skilled teachers and assessors and we cannot do this without better funding.”

Dr Lewis added: “I look forward to presenting the petition on the floor of the Houses of Parliament, drawing attention to the very large number of people who have signed the online petition, which could lead to a parliamentary debate on this very important subject.”

Last month Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said the government recognised that pressures existed and pledged that the issue would be examined.

The government issued an earlier response after the petition passed the 10,000-name mark.

A spokesman said: “The government is funding priorities in Further Education including new T Levels and looking at the needs of colleges ahead of the Spending Review.”