Thursday, April 5, 2012

SNP Minister Mike Russell, oversees the destruction of the college sector in Scotland, less colleges, less courses, less students stores up trouble

Dear All

In any country that wants to be a success one of the most important things to protect is education at all levels.

Education is a fundamental human right and bed rock that must be maintained if a country is to move forward.

Failure to invest in diverse education is a major political mistake that any party should avoid at all costs.

Higher education is not a flagship policy of the SNP Government, which is a real pity because opportunity has been missed to reform the sector.

Budgets cuts to the college sector were plainly short term thinking to solve a particular financial crisis caused Westminster budges cuts.

Eventually these cuts rolled downwards to the college sector.

The college sector gets less money than their university counterparts but teach vast numbers more cost effectively, they represent good value for money.

In Scotland cuts have to be made, but the cuts should have been in the university sector, the college sector should have been expanded and protected, like the NHS this should have been ring fenced.

Now, the chickens are coming home to roost again for the SNP Government, with a college principal claiming cuts in Scottish Government funding have led him to consider a merger with two other institutions.

Merger is code for job losses, courses cut and student numbers down.

Unlike my Scottish National Police Force idea which I proposed to Scottish National Party, the opposition is required in higher education, not mergers but maintaining independence.

Graeme Hyslop, principal has spoken out as talks continued over linking three Glasgow colleges of Langside, Cardonald and Anniesland.

I have no problem with the idea of great collaboration that the Scottish Government wants.

But independence of these colleges is vital, that concept is not being addressed properly.

It has been revealed this week the number of colleges in Scotland could be reduced by a third, from 41 to 28.

That is a major disaster of not just of planning but managing the portfolio by Mike Russell the education minister.

With the Scottish Government paralysed by the independence referendum, due care isn’t being taken as ministers give government business scant regard.

A third of colleges to be effectively closed!

That is unacceptable; it is denying working class Scots opportunities and a future.

What good is free education for Scots when they can’t access it?

The endless one track mind of the Scottish Government in wanting to shave off money, in this case £74 million off the budget, does address the problem of public sector reform.

That was the task of the second term of the SNP Government, effectively shelved until 2015, if indeed it happens at all.

Mr Hyslop, principal of Langside College, said:

"With impending reductions in core funding, it is essential to collaborate with our fellow institutions to ensure an adequate and appropriate educational and training provision is maintained. There are imaginative patterns of collaboration already in place between the three colleges and through this merger; we hope to achieve progressive resource alignment."

If a merger goes ahead, some 30,000 students could be brought under one roof.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:

"Mergers are not just about funding. Greater collaboration and partnerships will benefit students as local delivery will be protected in all regions and courses will be better aligned to local economic need. Fewer college administrations does not mean fewer campuses."

She is kidding herself on or is severely deluded, these cuts and mergers are doing one thing and one thing only, storing up trouble.

Trouble that could possibly see many SNP MSPs lose their seats in the Holyrood 2016 election.

The writing is on the wall, the pity is the SNP can’t read it!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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