No cuts to places

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THE STUDENT representative at Angus College has cautiously welcomed the funding announcement by the Scottish Government for further education in the next academic year.

Last Wednesday, education secretary Mike Russell confirmed there would be no reduction in student places across the country’s 41 colleges with numbers being maintained. However, he added that teaching grants could fall by up to 8.5 per cent.

Mr Russell was speaking of the likely funding position ahead of more detailed information from the Scottish Funding Council.

And even though the number of students at Angus College will remain constant from September, Gary Paterson, of the Angus College Students’ Association, says they will keep pressing the SNP government against cuts to further education.

He said: “It is welcoming that the SNP are keeping good on their commitment to student places as promised in the election campaign, this sounds like a win for the hard work of campaigning students up and down the country.

“But as far as we are concerned the fight still goes on. We want the SNP to keep their word on both committed places and support.

“Furthermore we won’t accept massive increases in class sizes, reductions in in-college hours and cuts to credits that mean students can’t go on to university.”

It was feared that 400 places at Angus College could be lost with funding taking a 13.5 per cent hit as the government look to make savings in the further education sector.

Already Angus College have had to make savings of 10.3 per cent through staff severance packages and reduced working hours.

But education secretary Mike Russell says the signs are that the hit to further education may not be as bad as first thought.

He explained: “The expected settlement is better than anticipated, despite the UK Government making significant cuts to the Scottish budget, and comes in the context of the ongoing reform of post 16 education in Scotland.

“I am also very pleased to be able to maintain college student numbers at 2011-12 levels.

“Colleges play a pivotal role in delivering for our young people and helping to drive forward reform and to the benefit of students, staff and the wider economy.

“We therefore remain fully committed to the sector. To that end, we will continue to invest significantly in it, with over £500 million of programme funding in 2012-13.”