Students step up campaign to end college budget cuts

On Monday MSP Alison McInnes got together with students at Angus College in support of the cuts debate. Pictured with her on the right is Tatiana Zorina 'Multicultural Office at Angus College.

On Monday MSP Alison McInnes got together with students at Angus College in support of the cuts debate. Pictured with her on the right is Tatiana Zorina 'Multicultural Office at Angus College.

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ANGUS College’s petition campaign to avoid crippling budget cuts received a boost on Monday when the MSP for North East Scotland signed up.

Alison McInnes MSP visited the college on Monday to meet with concerned students and see the work they do.

The establishment is facing cuts in the coming financial period of around 10 per cent, which could see the loss of student places. In the face of this, students last week launched a petition to persuade the Scottish Government to ameliorate the cuts.

Mrs McInnes met with student representatives and sat in with a class of students taking an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course.

After signing the petition she said: “Angus College is a valuable part of the community. The range of courses available support many different age groups and needs.

“Meeting students at the ESOL course underlined how important lifelong learning is. The Scottish Government’s drastic budget cuts will have a devastating effect on the college and that’s why I am campaigning against them.”

Tatiana Zorina, from Russia, came to Scotland four years ago with almost no English, and after completing an ESOL course at Angus College has since risen to become international student officer with Angus College and her efforts were recognised at the recent graduation awards.

Tatiana said: “Through the ESOL courses, we don’t just learn the English language but we learn how to integrate and we learn about citizenship.

“Angus College and the amazing ESOL tutors have allowed me to better my life chances. I would like everyone to have this chance!”

The campaign to ask the Scottish Government to reduce budget cuts of £74 million to further education by using some of the extra £66 million granted by Westminster has taken off.

Just last week over 400 students demonstrated on campus against the cuts before signing the petition, and they were joined by a cross-section of concerned local councillors.

Katie Mews, student campaign officer said: “We have been working on local campaigns that have been recognised nationally – keeping up the pressure on the Scottish Government to rethink its proposals for college education.

“We are continuing to engage with the local community and representatives to fight against potential cuts to places, courses, support and provision in college education.”

Gary Paterson, student representative of Angus College Student Association and campaign officer added: “We kicked off our fight when four hundred students took to the campus with numbered signs to represent the estimated full-time places to be cut.

“We have petitioned on Arbroath High Street receiving the support and signatures of hundreds of concerned townsfolk.

“We have met with a number of representatives to highlight the role of our college and the need to protect it. Now we look forward to taking our campaign a step further!”

He added: “Angus College students are particularly excited about rolling out the National Union of Students campaign for a more secure college future. ‘Our Future, Our Fight’ will be rolling out in further and higher education campuses to fight back against the cuts.

“We will fight with our fellow students across the country and call for student support, college places, teaching quality and local access to be protected.

“I am extremely proud of all the work my fellow students have put in to defending our college and contributing to the growing recognition of a need to reverse these crippling cuts.

“Outside of the college we have much support from people in the community which is genuinely heart-warming.

“We ask for those in the community to support us in all our campaigns, together it is our community, it is our future and our fight!”