South Scotland Colin Smyth MSP has criticised the Scottish Government for singling out Dumfries and Galloway for more cuts in funding for failing to meet targets- while maintaining funding to other colleges who failed to hit 2015/2016 targets.
The revelation comes in a new report published today by Audit Scotland which shows that performance targets set at the beginning of the year for all further education regions were met except in two regions- Dumfries and Galloway and Edinburgh.
However, only Dumfries and Galloway will see their funding cut as a result, with Edinburgh Colleges deemed to have ‘significant challenges’ leaving their budget untouched.
The report stated that:
“In order to meet the national target, the SFC agrees credit targets with each of the 13 college regions. In multi-college regions, the regional body agrees the credit targets for the assigned colleges. Two regions (Edinburgh, and Dumfries and Galloway) did not meet their targets in 2015-16. The SFC subsequently reduced funding to Dumfries and Galloway for 2016-17, but allowed Edinburgh to retain funding because it was facing significant financial challenges”.
This grossly unfair decision has been criticised by South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth who claims that Dumfries and Galloway is being singled out for unfair treatment, despite seeing cuts in funding over many years.
Nationally Audit Scotland is scathing about the Governments record in supporting colleges, highlighting:
- Since 2007/08 there are almost 160,000 fewer students at Scotland’s colleges.
- Part time student numbers falling at a greater rate than full time student numbers.
- A drop in retention rates for part time and full time further education students.
- College deficits have increased.
- Settling the national pay dispute could cost colleges £80 million in the next three years.
Commenting on the report Colin Smyth MSP said:
“This is a really damming report on a decade of Scottish Government cuts to colleges. Thousands of young people have had their opportunities cut off by an SNP government which has starved colleges of funding.
“I am particularly furious that the report reveals that Dumfries and Galloway College was singled out by the Government for additional cuts in 2016/17. It was the only college in the entire country to have its funding reduced for that years due to so-called targets, yet Edinburgh who had the same issue retained their funding.
“It is seriously unfair that Edinburgh is receiving special treatment yet Dumfries and Galloway has had funding cut again having already suffered years of cuts”.
“The Scottish Government has consistently failed to understand that in a rural area it is more expensive to deliver courses because the number of students will be smaller. The college in Dumfries and Galloway does a fantastic job but at a time the local economy is struggling, it needs more funding not less”.
“Dumfries and Galloway College is a hugely important to our community and the local economy. It is building ground for economic growth, giving people the skills and qualifications necessary to achieve their ambitions. Sadly, the Scottish Government does not see it this way, and are quite happy to deprive young people in the region of those opportunities.”
The full report ‘Scotland’s Colleges 2017’ can be found here: