Opposition parties have been accused of promoting "anti-Scottish" education policies.
Education Secretary Mike Russell said the "Tory-Labour alliance" at Holyrood is responsible for "hypocrisy", "scaremongering" and the "exploitation" of college students and principles. The "unholy coalition" at Westminster is "trying to destroy Scottish education", he said.
Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith led a debate in Holyrood on Thursday calling on Parliament to "condemn the Scottish Government for forcing on the (college) sector deeply damaging financial cuts".
Ms Smith said: "The college sector is being asked to cope with cuts of 8.5% in teaching grants on top of the all the cuts they suffered last year. They are being asked to cope with funding cuts of £544 million to £470 million, progressive cuts of £38 million in year one, £50 million in year two and £74 million in year three. So by 2015 there is an annual cut of £74 million."
Ms Smith also defended the Conservative policy of charging university tuition fees, against Mr Russell's insistence that "the overwhelming opinion in Scotland is against paying for education".
Mr Russell said Ms Smith had been condemned "out of her own mouth" in her promotion of "anti-Scottish" tuition fees. He said: "We are talking about raising fees in Scotland in order to pay for education. The people of Scotland rejected it absolutely in May and they would reject it again.
"It would be interesting to see if Labour has the courage to continue with their policy against paying for education or whether they are moving into that dreadful anti-Scottish, anti-educational block because the Scottish tradition is free education - and I stand proudly for it."
Mr Russell said: "Despite that spending review, we will continue to make a significant investment in the sector: over £500 million in 2012-13. By comparison, the UK Government is reducing their investment in English FE by £1.1 billion, from £4.3 billion to £3.2 billion. That's a 25% reduction in cash terms."
Labour education spokesman Hugh Henry argued that with growing numbers of young people out of work, the need to invest in colleges had never been greater. Mr Henry, a former education minister, went on: "It's the colleges that will make the difference. If we fail the colleges, if we do not give them the resources, they will not be able to respond to the crisis which is confronting us."
SNP backbenchers argued that the financial situation means tough choices have to be made by the Government. Stuart McMillan said: "Not one person in this chamber this morning would wish to reduce the budgets for our further education establishments. But there are tough decisions that this Government needs to make as a result of the budget coming to this Parliament being slashed by the UK coalition of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems."