STUDENTS studying to become electricians at Swindon College were outraged when the price of their course suddenly tripled.

Matthew Armstrong, 51, and nine other adults studied a part-time Level 2 Electrotechnical Craft course for two years at the college during their evenings while balancing full-time jobs.

Just before they completed their exams and prepared to progress to the Level 3 course, they were informed that this would now cost them £2,950 a year rather than just under £1,000 a year.

Matt said: “It’s extortionate, this has been a nightmare.

“The Level 3 course was originally one year when we first looked at studying here, then the college split it over two years because it was apparently too difficult to teach in one year.

“This has meant that it would already cost us twice as much as we thought it would, but we accepted that.

“Now they’ve sent us a letter saying they’re bumping up the price of the course by 200 per cent!

“We’ve spent two years studying and now we’re stuck in the middle of nowhere because we have a Level 2 qualification but the Level 3 is the one we need to get employers to notice us.

“At other colleges, many courses are during the daytime, which we can’t do, and the colleges with evening courses are too far away for us to get to.”

One of Matt's coursemates, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "The whole Level 2 course has been a mess and this price increase is an extra insult.

"The theory side has been very poor, one of our tutors was a Level 3 student who wasn't fully-qualified.

"It's disgusting and abhorrent, the Level 2 wasn't even worth the £1,000 a year to be honest.

"I don't know what I'm going to do now but I wouldn't recommend coming here for electrician training."

Matthew added: “Last year we had four different tutors because they kept leaving.

“They don’t even have a tutor ready for the Level 3 course yet, they’re still advertising for the position.

“I think they just don’t want to do the course and they’re trying to out-price us.

“We wanted to learn a trade to better ourselves but we can't afford it now.

"I just wish they honoured the prices they stated at the beginning.

“If we knew it would be this much when we first looked into studying here, we wouldn’t have started this training in the first place.”

A spokesperson for Swindon College said: “The fees for this course have increased from an unfeasibly low level and are still less than the fees being charged at other local colleges for the same course.

“There are many colleges providing this course in the region and so our prices need to be competitive and we believe they are.”

Other colleges offer a one-year course for £3,000 to £3,500.