Hartlepool's MP Mike Hill met with college principals as part of a campaign to highlight funding shortfalls.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill visited Hartlepool College of Further Education and meet principal, Darren Hankey, along with the head of The English Martyrs Sixth Form College, Stephen Hammond, and head of Hartlepool Sixth Form College, Mark Hughes.
The meeting was held as part of national Colleges Week which has been used to focus on the need for further education funding reform and saw college staff from Hartlepool involved in a march on Westminster on the matter.
Mr Hill said: “The town’s colleges and sixth forms do amazing work but, as the recent Institute for Fiscal Studies report highlighted, their funding has bore the brunt of the current government’s focus on austerity.
“It really isn’t acceptable that the funding is only 10 per cent more in real terms than it was back in 1990.
"The nation’s productivity lags behind that of OECD competitors and much is made of skills gaps and skills shortages.
"Further education has the potential to address these issues, but this is unlikely with a woeful approach to funding.”
Mr Hankey said: “The funding colleges receives mean that we can only provide education and training for about 15 hours per week.
"Data from Europe highlights young people studying there receive anywhere between 25 and 30 hours per week - in Holland this figure is closer to 40 hours.
"Ultimately, this means young English people are being let down by policy makers when compared to their European counterparts.”
Mr Hammond said: “We aim to get our learners into the country’s top universities and this can be difficult with the current funding regime.
“Young people from more affluent areas will have access to things such as extra private tuition, but this won’t be the case for most of our students.
"With this in mind, current policy and funding decisions have a more adverse impact on the town’s young people.”
Mr Hughes said: “For the further education sector to continue to be a driving force in the development of a higher skilled workforce, colleges need to be able to invest in their people, resources and facilities.
"My colleagues at the Sixth Form College and I hope this campaign reminds communities of the vibrant, innovative and creative learning environments we create in our colleges. ”