Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon will question the Scottish Government in parliament today after an investigation by the Herald found that 16 out of 20 colleges will be in the red by the end of the financial year.
SCOTTISH LABOUR will today challenge the Scottish Government on growing financial concerns facing colleges across Scotland.
It follows an investigation by the Herald that found that three-quarters of colleges will be in the red by the end of the current financial year, according to return sent to the Scottish Funding Council.
Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said she was “alarmed” by the situation and will seek answers from Scottish Government ministers in parliament.
“They can accept a Tory budget from Westminster, or they can work with Labour to stop the cuts.” Monica Lennon
Lennon said: “We still don’t know whether the SNP’s shake-up of our colleges has been worth it, but we do know that college places have been slashed by the SNP.
“Scotland used to have a commitment to education and lifelong learning, but it is hard to see how that is being delivered today as opportunities are cut off from Scots.
“Yet, more cuts to the education budget will only make this worse. That’s why the SNP Government should accept Labour’s amendments to the Scottish budget to stop the cuts. SNP ministers face a choice – they can accept a Tory budget from Westminster, or they can work with Labour to stop the cuts.”
“College budgets have very little room for flexibility now as they are heavily made up of staff costs.” Shona Struthers
The findings come weeks after the number of part-time college places were slashed. According to Scottish Labour, it remains unclear whether the college merger programme has saved money.
The Herald investigation found that the situation is worse than Audit Scotland’s report in August, which found that 11 colleges will be in the red by the end of the current financial year.
With colleges facing an estimated bill of £80m to implement Scottish Government policy that will allow all lecturers to earn up to £40,000 in three years’ time, the chief executive of Colleges Scotland said that it is critical that the budget of the college sector is protected.
“The Scottish Government lives in challenging times, and that goes for all the ministers we have.” Shirley-Ann Somerville
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, told the Herald: “College budgets have very little room for flexibility now as they are heavily made up of staff costs and colleges are also committed to the Scottish Government policy of no compulsory redundancies and, as public bodies, they can no longer hold reserves. This means that sustainability is becoming increasingly difficult for the sector.”
Meanwhile, the universities and colleges minister has warned that there might be a further hardship in the future for the college sector.
Shirley-Ann Somerville told Holyrood magazine she would not rule out further cuts to funding for further education in Scotland.
The Dunfermline MSP said: “The Scottish Government lives in challenging times, and that goes for all the ministers we have. We will have to work with the universities and colleges to deliver.”
Picture courtesy of Tom Parnell
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.