Scotland’s colleges have slashed the number of student and teachers and may have to cut staff costs further as they struggle to cope with an 11 per cent reduction in funding, the spending watchdog has said. This is from the Times…
Audit Scotland has warned institutions that there is a risk that they will lose the teaching expertise they need if they are not careful with redundancy programmes which meant staff was cut from 12,800 to 11,600 in 2011/12.
The watchdog also said that older Scots wishing to return to education could be squeezed out as colleges attempt to meet demand from school leavers. The number of hours of learning provided to 16-24-year-olds had risen by about 14 per cent in the seven years to 2011/12 while students aged 25 and over experienced a 22 per cent drop. The total number of students also dropped by 48,000 as more Scots took full-time rather than part-time courses.
Larry Flanagan, the General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union, said the report highlighted the “very difficult circumstances … with deep real-terms cuts to learning and teaching budgets”.
He said: “The significant decline in teaching staff numbers, student places and courses illustrate the damaging impact of these funding cuts on further education provision.” SNP ministers have been accused of sacrificing colleges in order to fund universities without the need for tuition fees.
Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, has also overseen the restructuring of institutions into regional hubs, which is expected to make further savings. Audit Scotland said the restructuring “represents a major change for the college sector” and there would be a wide variation in how much it would cost individual colleges. Earlier this month it was reported that the sector had already spent £40 million on severance packages for staff.
More at: Both students and teachers feel pain of college funding cuts (subscription required)
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