Commenting on Audit Scotland Report on Colleges of Further Education

Short term cuts in further education, long term damage.
The report, from Audit Scotland on Further Education Colleges, reveals the damaging effects of the SNP’s swingeing cuts in the budgets of our local Colleges. In fact, the Colleges of Further Education have been on the receiving end of particularly harsh and unrelenting cuts, year after year. There are now fewer adults going to college, more folk on waiting lists, reduced numbers of teaching staff and a decimation of part-time courses.

Audit Scotland have confirmed that the reorganisation of this sector through forced college mergers' and budget cuts; has come at the expense of at least 1200 jobs. It’s a reorganisation built on cuts in lecturers; no wonder staff morale in this sector is low. 

Because of SNP choices, 48,000 fewer people are walking through the doors of our colleges. What’s more, part-time places have been slashed, dropping by 40%. These are not just staggering numbers, they subsume countless lost opportunities for many aspiring individuals who have found their way ahead blocked. If you been made redundant or want to go back to work after raising your family, there is now a more limited range and fewer number of places for second chances to learn in order to earn. 

It seems the Scottish Government just don't get it; that is understanding the link between investing in learning and growing our economy. Nor do they seem to appreciate the link between informal adult learning and award bearing vocational courses.  Ideally the informal community learning provision works as the vehicle for boosting confidence and re-engaging the adult learner. With growing confidence, these learners then need the articulated vocational courses to be running in their  local college.

The SNP need to show more leadership here and support colleges to deliver high quality vocational qualifications with articulated links with the informal as part of a long-term integrated employment strategy.