Perth College UHI chiefs have been told to “think again” after announcing plans to shut their learning centres in Crieff, Kinross and Blairgowrie this summer.
Bosses said the bases would be axed in June, blaming “significant financial challenges”.
It’s thought dozens of jobs are at risk in the move.
A spokesperson said: “Perth College UHI continually reviews our activities and the affordability of delivering our services in all locations.
“Course numbers and the upcoming loss of rurality funding has enforced us to review our provision in the current fiscal climate, with the college facing significant financial challenges.
“We will continue to review opportunities for delivering educational provision in our local communities alongside local partners.”
Politicians have described the closures as a “step backwards” and “a blow to communities”.
Roseanna Cunningham, SNP MSP, said: “I had previously raised concerns when I learned that closure was a possibility and I am very disappointed indeed to learn that the board of Perth College have now taken the decision to close the Learning Centres in Kinross and Crieff.
“I am shocked that this decision has been presented as a sort of secretive fait accompli, without any consultation process.
“Staff and students have been kept in the dark and they are axing courses that are not only full but have a waiting list.
“This decision is a backward step and I urge the board at Perth College to think again and find a way of continuing to support these important facilities.”
Her SNP colleague, Pete Wishart MP, also condemned the closures, saying: “This is very, very disappointing news and will be a real blow for communities such as Blairgowrie.
“These centres serve a valuable role in providing opportunities closer to communities and are especially valuable to those who are not able to travel to the main campus in Perth.”
“I will be writing to the principal to seek a better explanation of the situation and to see if anything can be done to save these valued facilities.”
The Courier revealed earlier this month that the learning centres were under threat when the college refused to deny they had plans to shut them.
The closing of the Perthshire satellite centres follows the college’s decision to move its Pathways Learning Centre in Perth to the main campus on the outskirts of the city.
Speaking at the time of the Pathways move announcement, Dr Margaret Cook, Perth College UHI principal, said: “We have made this decision in order to guarantee a sustainable future for the delivery of the high-quality leisure programmes we offer to our local community.”
One angry employee of the learning centres, who asked to remain anonymous, said dozens of jobs could be affected.
The worker said: “After months and months of being misled they’re closing the centres at the end of June and throwing people on the dole.”