Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie MSP today said the legacy of repeated SNP college cuts has been laid bare after the Student Funding Council reported there are 150,000 fewer students compared to when the SNP came to power in 2007.
It revealed that in 2015/16 there were 227,258 college students enrolled, compared to 379,223 in 2007/08. The report also revealed that part time courses halved to 185,133.
Commenting, Mr Rennie said:
“To build a high wage, high skilled economy, we need to ensure that Scots can get the training they need to get on in the workplace. But on the SNP’s watch we have seen 150,000 college places wiped out.
“Cuts to college budgets obviously lead to cuts in college places so Scottish Government Ministers have no-one to blame but themselves for the massive falls in student numbers. Places for those who would study part time, such as those with work or family commitments, have vanished.
“What’s more, they are depriving companies of the skilled staff they need and hurting our economy in the process.
“The legacy of years of SNP college cuts has been laid bare. We need to see the cuts reversed and end the college funding squeeze.”
On Thursday 19th January, Willie Rennie wrote to Finance Secretary Derek MacKay laying out substantial changes needed to the SNP budget. This included a commitment to restore college investment to the peak funding levels of 2010-11.
The section of the letter on colleges read:
“On colleges, we remain seriously concerned at the shortages of skills in important sectors. College funding next year will be £93m below the peak funding achieved in 2010-11 under the terms of your Draft Budget. The erosion of the college sector should not be allowed to stand next year. The decline has impacted on women and older students disproportionately. We believe that it is important to return investment back to former funding levels and meet future skills needs. Improved college funding will need to be part of the final Budget.”