Realities of FE funding in Scotland

ANGUS Lib Dem councillor David May, who is a member of the authority’s education committee, has expressed his disappointment at the fact that the colleges’ budget is facing huge cuts for yet another year.

However, his comments have been slammed by Angus South MSP Graeme Dey.

Councillor May stated: “I have previously commented that we have an excellent local college which serve the needs of youngsters and many others in Montrose, Arbroath, Carnoustie, Monifieth and Angus and has rightly been given national recognition.

“As a former headteacher, and also someone who has in the past personally benefited from a college education, and furthermore who has visited our own Angus College on many occasions, I know the role they play in providing their students with the skills and knowledge which greatly expand their opportunities for employment in the future.

“I watched the budget discussions on television and I could not believe my own local SNP MSP for Angus North and the Mearns, along with others in his own party, was seen applauding a cut of £25 million from the colleges budget.

The MSPs should be arguing against a cut like this and not backing it.”

Mr Dey responded: “I very much welcome the fact that John Swinney managed, in the most challenging of financial circumstances, to find an additional £10 million for colleges in 2013/14 and an extra £51 million for 2014/15.

“Those of us who reside in the real world recognise that if the Tory-Lib-Dem Government slashes the Scottish budget then inevitably cuts have to be made here in Scotland.”

He continued: “And it is worth noting that even with a reduction in funding, the FE sector will receive £522 million for each of the next two years - some £12 million more per year than at any time prior to the SNP coming into government, including when the Lib-Dems were in coalition at Holyrood.

“As for how MSPs conduct themselves during the budget process - let’s be clear.

“Labour, the Tories and the Lib-Dems each had the option of putting forward amendments to the proposed budget. They could have removed any trace of cuts in the FE sector - but to do that they’d have had to demonstrate where they would have found the money from, by implementing spending cuts elsewhere.

“They did nothing except vote against the budget even though it enhanced the planned spend on colleges by £61 million over two years.

“That for me suggests they either lacked the economic literacy to come up with alternative proposals or they were simply playing party politics with colleges.”