Some of the colleges are also in dispute over conditions.
Bosses have offered a below-inflation 1 percent pay deal following years of real terms pay cuts.
The UCU says FE workers have suffered a 23.6 percent real terms cut in pay since 2008.
Workers are demanding a pay rise of the RPI rate of inflation as of 1 August 2017 plus 3 percent on all pay points.
The ballots follow a national consultative ballot of UCU members in FE colleges that saw a 75 percent vote for action.
The union’s national executive committee had previously decided that consultative ballots must achieve a 50 percent turnout in order to lead to a national strike ballot.
The colleges set to ballot for strikes are Hackney, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Havering, South Thames, Carshalton, Kingston, Epping Forest, Sandwell, City of Westminster, College of North West London, Sussex Coast College Hastings, Sunderland, Richmond-upon-Thames, City and Islington, Westminster Kingsway, College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, Croydon and Lambeth.
A ballot of higher education lecturers for strikes over pensions is due to end on 19 January.
The ballot involves UCU union members in older universities who are part of the defined benefit scheme.
Bosses’ plans could slash the value of workers’ pensions by half.