A GROUP of Hampshire students have raised a 40,000-name petition urging the government to invest more money in colleges.

Politics students from Brockenhurst College travelled to Westminster to promote the petition, which says funding for colleges has been cut by almost 30% in real terms over the past ten years.

Schools with sixth forms are said to have been less severely affected.

A recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies said two-thirds of students took their A levels at colleges but sixth forms received 8% more funding per pupil.

Nine Brockenhurst students travelled to Parliament and met Dr Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East, who agreed to back their cause.

If the college achieves 100,000 signatures the issue could be debated in the Commons.

Dr Lewis said “I shall certainly be pressing their case – which is very strong – with education ministers.

“I also look forward to presenting a 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.”

Student Charlotte Jones, who launched the petition, said: "All we want is equality.

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

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

Brockenhurst 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.”

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said the government recognised that pressures existed and pledged that the issue would be examined ahead of the next spending review.

During their trip to Parliament the students saw the Prime Minister speak during a Brexit debate and answer questions from MPs.