STUDENTS say they have been abandoned by West Cheshire College (WCC).
The group, which has completed a level three diploma in therapeutic counselling at the college’s Ellesmere Port campus, was notified by WCC at the start of June that the level 4 course, due to start in September, had been withdrawn.
The students, including one who is registered blind and another who is disabled, are from areas including Chester, Malpas, Ellesmere Port, Neston, Warrington and St Asaph.
Group spokeswoman Jane Hall, of Whitby, Ellesmere Port, said: “We paid £800 to take the level three course, which was presented by the college as being necessary to continue on to the level four.
“We feel let down that our commitment of taking up the level three course has not been reflected by the college honouring us as students by running the level four course.”
The group is also angered by the college’s timing as most similar courses are already full so some of the students are having trouble enrolling at a different service provider.
Jane has since found a course in Warrington through a private provider but at a cost of up to £1,650, including registration and residential fees.
She said: “Although I have found an alternative course it will cost more than the WCC one and I will have to travel further.
“Not all the other students can afford this and there are not enough places on my course to accommodate them all.”
The group wrote to the college’s area manager, Christine Knight, outlining their complaints including their claims of a lack of consultation, the timing of the notification and that they signed up in the belief they could progress on to level four.
In her reply Ms Knight said: “Information you received from tutors at the beginning of the year would have been correct at that time however, in the present economic climate the college must review its financial obligations and make necessary adjustment where necessary.
“I am sorry you felt informing you in June did not give you sufficient time to investigate alternative provision and can only apologise for this.
“My intention was to find you an alternative course for you to join but this has not been successful.”
Yesterday, responding to the group’s claims of a lack of consultation, WCC deputy principal Penny Horsefield said: “There has been discussion with the group and each member of the group has been (and is still being) offered one to one sessions to support them in moving to new provision.
“The college does not take such decisions lightly and always endeavours to support students affected.”
But Jane said the group is regularly in contact with each other and none of them have been contacted by the college individually or as a group since the letter announcing the course withdrawal.
A college spokesman said: “The college directly refutes this.”