Angus College needs to retain a community role

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ANGUS College could be affected by sweeping funding cuts if a proposed Scottish government budget is passed in February.

The new budget could see Angus College take a hit of 13.5 per cent to funding, which would have a catastrophic effect on education services.

This year the college was forced to make savings of 10.3 per cent, which was not an easy task according to depute principal Jackie Howie.

She said: “We managed to make those cuts using a series of voluntary options among staff, and as a result there was a very limited impact on student places.”

Voluntary options ranged from severance packages to reduced working hours or extra holidays, as well as cuts to non-staff budgets.

According to depute principal Howie everything that can be cut already has been. She prophesied: “It’s going to be a difficult choice next year.

“We are very limited in what we can do. We’ll have to cut student places because we will have to cut staff levels.”

According to depute principal Howie, university funding will not be affected by the cuts. She said: “More money going into the higher education sector should not come at the expense of the further education sector.”

Angus College serves not just as an educational centre for young people but also as a community focal point, providing access to learning and facilities that are important to many.

One example at risk is the ‘silver surfer’ drop-in class where the older generation gather to learn IT skills and exchange tips, another is the network of learning centres in Brechin, Forfar and Montrose.

Depute principal Howie added: “The college is a lifeline for some of these people.

“Difficult decisions will need to be taken as to the level of class provision.

“We totally believe in lifelong learning. The community plays a key part in the college and the college plays a key role in the community.”

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey promised this week to help limit the damage should the worst come to pass.

He said: “As everyone appreciates, the Scottish Government block grant has been dramatically slashed and that inevitably has had a significant impact on public spending across the board.

“However, I continue to be in discussions with Angus College management looking at how the impact of reduced further education sector funding might be mitigated in their case.”