College services across Scotland are being undermined by Scottish Government cuts, a Conservative MSP has claimed.
Mary Scanlon, a regional MSP for the Highlands and Islands, told a Holyrood debate that according to an Audit Scotland report entitled ‘Scotland’s Colleges: current finances, future challenges’, the teaching grant to further education institutions has fallen by £73 million in the last two years - a drop of nearly 16 per cent.
Mrs Scanlon asked why £24 million was cut and given to Skills Development Scotland, only to be ring fenced for colleges - a move she said meant that money was simply going round in circles creating unnecessary bureaucracy.
“Given that I was a lecturer for 20 years I do know about the pressures that colleges face,” Mrs Scanlon said.
“Further Education has always served as an opportunity to retrain and a second chance for many who have no qualifications or have spent many years in a job well below their capabilities or simply need to retrain.
“The Scottish Government urgently needs to reconsider its spending priorities as it would be tragic if this opportunity was lost to young and mature students across Scotland.”
Mrs Scanlon said there was a major funding gap between what colleges are expected to do and the support they receive, according to evidence given by Professor Gallacher to the education committee at Holyrood, as they are expected to teach degrees equivalent to the standards of universities, yet face major budget cuts.