A review has been launched into seven colleges in Birmingham and Solihull amid fears they could be combined - potentially meaning hundreds of job losses.
Academics told the Birmingham Post they were worried one big "super college" could be created in the Midlands - forcing some existing institutions to close in a move that would impact thousands of students and apprentices.
The Government has launched a review into the colleges and sixth form centres in Birmingham and Solihull as part of a drive to slash funding for post-16 education institutions.
Officials claim there is "significant scope for greater efficiency in the further education sector".
The review, which will assess the "economic and educational needs" of the area, will focus on Birmingham Metropolitan College, Bournville College, Solihull College, South & City College Birmingham, Cadbury Sixth Form College, Joseph Chamberlain College and The Sixth Form College Solihull.
The review began last month with the first meeting of a steering group led by Further Education Commissioner Dr David Collins.
The same reviews are also being carried out in Yorkshire, Solent, Sussex, Tees Valley, Sheffield and Manchester - with the Government's recommendations for the future of the colleges expected to be announced in January.
A similar overhaul has seen five colleges in Norfolk and Suffolk announce they could merge - and it is now feared the same could happen in Birmingham and Solihull.
One academic, who did not wish to be named, told the Post: "It is widely believed the commissioner will recommend one big super college for Birmingham and Solihull.
"Inevitably, it will mean some colleges will merge while others will be forced to close or significantly reduce in size and capacity. It will mean the potential of hundreds of job losses and a real restriction on the availability of courses for some students."
The review, led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education, comes after two of the colleges at the heart of the review suffered serious financial difficulties.
Birmingham Metropolitan College earlier this year requested "exceptional financial support" from the Skills Funding Agency and announced it would be axing around 15 per cent of its 1,600-strong workforce.
Meanwhile, Bournville College, in Longbridge, admitted in September it had axed more than 100 staff - a quarter of its workforce - as it battles to save £6.5 million.
And Birmingham Metropolitan College and Solihull College are both under pressure after each of them were earlier this year rated as "requiring improvement" by education watchdog Ofsted.
A government spokesman said: "The reviews will focus on the current structure of FE colleges and sixth form colleges although there will be opportunities for other institutions, including schools and independent providers, to opt in to this stage of the analysis."
He said the review was "designed to achieve a transition towards fewer, larger, more efficient providers and more effective collaboration across institution types".
"A critical aspect will be to create greater specialisation, with the establishment of institutions that are genuine centres of expertise, able to support sustained progression in professional and technical disciplines, alongside excellence in other fundamental areas - such as English and maths," he added.