THE WORK of student campaigners to convince the Scottish Government not to slash college budgets has been praised.
It was announced on Thursday that Holyrood had passed a Scottish budget provisioning an extra £8 million for colleges and a further £11.4 million for student support for 2012/13.
Scottish Liberal Democrat councillor David May, who sits on the education committee, was pleased by Holyrood’s decision and praised the perseverance of student campaigners. He said: “I am delighted to see that John Swinney did produce at the budget extra money for colleges and reverse their proposed cut in student support and increase the money going into colleges.
“This was in response to the huge opposition to the cuts as I, like many others both at the council as well as nationally, passionately argued for a reversal of the cuts due to the impact it would have on our young people across Angus, Angus College and the needs of our economy.
“However, the superb campaign of the NUS and our own Angus College students led so well by Gary Paterson, and nationally by Wille Rennie the Scottish Lib-Dem leader in parliament, made a considerable impact on the SNP MSPs and the Scottish Government, as it is clear that Scotland’s colleges improve the life chances of thousands of people, of all ages in all parts of the country.
“There is no doubt that our colleges provide our Angus students with the skills they need to get up and get on. The budget produced by John Swinney, overruled the position of the education minister, Mike Russell, who only the previous week was defending the savage cuts to the budget of Scotland’s colleges and ignoring the widespread concerns of students, staff and colleges on the impact these damaging cuts would have. I am aware that there are still cuts on the colleges but they are not as bad as they would have been.”
Angus College student representative Gary Paterson was also pleased at the outcome, he said: “I am pleased that the SNP have taken note of the 80,000 emails sent to representatives up and down the country which have called for student places to be protected and student support to be maintained.
“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved, this goes down to the hard work of students who were determined to fight for the education they want and deserve.
“This was the largest and most successful campaign in the history of NUS Scotland and Angus College, all involved across Scotland campaigned tirelessly and I applaud them for their work in putting the Scottish Government under pressure to ensure a better deal for our colleges.”