Bullying is used as a "management tool" at Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham, union officials have claimed.
A report based on staff responses claims it is a style of management used by the principal, Christine Braddock, and senior managers, creating a culture of "cronyism" and "grace and favour".
The damning judgment on the city centre further education institution is based on a survey of staff conducted by the University and College Union.
The results are derived from the responses of only 36 members of staff out of 112 contacted – and have been called into question by the college.
Nevertheless, the report makes stark reading, alleging "widespread and institutionalised" bullying.
Respondents complained about fear of reprisals if they speak out or engage in union activity.
Many say they are seeking to leave because they cannot take any more.
The Bullying Survey was instigated earlier this year in response to concerns raised by a number of staff at the college. It asked a series of 19 questions in order to assess the situation.
One question asked: "If you think you are being bullied, why do you think this is happening?" Responses included: "Culture of bullying from the top – bullying behaviour considered normal."
"Being 'in and out of favour' is a state that most staff find themselves in at one time or another."
One staff member wrote: "Fear making a mistake, feel guilty when having time with family/friends.
"Concerned when talking to others in the corridors."
Another question asking how the college dealt with bullying was answered: "There is in theory an open door policy but one would have to be extremely foolish to use it." Under a section headed "any other comments", one member of staff wrote: "The problem with MBC is that all the managers live in fear of losing their jobs and this means that anger is directed at staff."
Another stated: "MBC management style embraces bullying."
However, the validity of the survey has been called into question by Ms Braddock.
The Post understands that the college has conducted its own survey, the results of which it says do not reveal a problem with bullying.
However, Chris May, regional official for the UCU, said: "While our survey never purported to be an exemplary research document, the overwhelming response from almost everyone was that there is a problem that needs to be investigated. Given developments in this area, I am concerned that by dismissing the report, the college will expose itself to liabilities should any of those people being bullied wish to pursue the matter in the courts."
Mr May urged the college to commission an independent organisation, such as the ACAS arbitration service, to do a more in-depth study.
"This independent review would either confirm or dispel the results.
"If it confirmed the results, then UCU would wish to work with the senior management to bring procedures in place to ensure that people do not feel bullied," added Mr May.
In a statement issued when the bullying issue was first highlighted earlier this year, Ms Braddock said: "Our HR policies and management culture requires that all staff members and students at Matthew Boulton College are treated with dignity and respect at all times.
"We do not condone any form of bullying."
Ms Braddock, a former deputy principal of Dudley College, joined Matthew Boulton seven years ago when spiralling debts threatened closure.
The college is now solvent, but recently lost a major contract to teach in ten prisons, cutting its staff roll by about a half.