At last nights Labour Party meeting, we had a visit from Douggie Dean, UNISON steward at Angus College. He was able to give us an update on the funding situation at Angus College, and it made for grim listening.
As reported in the Courier on Monday, the college faces a cut of funding equivalent to over 39% over the next 3 years, once inflation has been taken into account. This comes on top of a 10.4% cut this year, which the college has managed to cope with. Staff taking voluntary severance an a pay freeze until 2015 helped, along with an imaginative management.
However this latest cut is a particularly bitter blow, considering the types of course which the College offers – those of a more practical nature, or those providing access to other types of courses, especially at University. And of course not forgetting those courses and support for students with special needs. Angus, serving as it does a widespread rural area, has an excellent track record in giving students from all parts of the county access to its courses through the out-stations in towns across the country from Kirriemuir to Montrose.
The SNP will (and already have) blame Westminster for these cuts – “It wasnae us!” they cry. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s a blatant lie. The relatively generous allowance given to the University sector, compared to Further Education (FE) Colleges, show it for the pathetic excuse that it is.
Mike Russell, Education Minister, has already said he wants to fund Colleges on a regional basis. That is obviously code for merger, and these cuts are intended to precipitate them – giving him the deniability he needs.
Well let me say right now, Labour is not going to stand for this. The people of Angus aren’t going to stand for it. Our young people deserve nothing less.