Union fears over college reform

THE UNISON union representative at Angus College says he hopes no members will suffer as a result of the institution’s merger with its Dundee counterpart.

It was announced last year that Angus College and Dundee College would merge and on Friday that Christina Potter, current principal of Dundee College, will take on the role of principal designate.

Unison and other unions had been against any college mergers and as far back March 2011, a lunchtime protest was held against this and financial cuts facing the sector.

And Unison representative Dougie Deans has said: “The realities are the education secretary stated as far back as 2010 he will not force any College to merge.

“What he didn’t state was if you don’t merge you will find it difficult to get funded. There were four different options to choose from but when reality kicked in there only was one option on offer, merge.

“To get back to the local situation as of the November 1, 2013, like every other enforced merger Angus College will be no more, Dundee College has become the host college and as news of last week Dundee’s principal will oversee Dundee College and Angus College becoming one.

“Unison will be working with the GMB trade union and EIS along with the new management to ensure the workforces of both colleges suffer no detriment to their terms and conditions due to this enforced merger.

“Reality first and foremost, is the Angus community including those that supported our petition to prevent this merger have been let down badly, by this Scottish government and those that are in office that subscribe to their ethos.”

And now with further education budgets being cut Mr Deans says there are fears for both college places and jobs.

He added: “This regionalisation programme has reduced 41 colleges to 13 regions creating uncertainty around jobs, courses and prospective students.

“Included in this regionalisation programme was a further cut to the further education budget for the next three years of £122 million.

“The overall picture in further education is full of anomalies due to this Scottish Government’s meddling.

“We have a fall of over 85,000 part time places for students, college principals have already warned that the government’s £25 million cut from college budgets next year will undermine the sector’s ability to cope with reforms being demanded by ministers.

“College principals have already warned that the Government’s £25 million cut from college budgets next year will undermine the sector’s ability to cope with reforms being demanded by ministers.

“Over 1,300 jobs lost in the sector already, every college in a merged state have had a project team in place via the Scottish Government at a cost of £60,000 per annum fixed term contract for two years.

“Voluntary Severance Packages are ready to be rolled out, jobs lost under another disguise.

“The further education sector was an easy target to manipulate to keep the pledge of free university fees free, the higher education budget has hardly been touched.

“Did the mergers of the higher education universities happen?

“No of course it didn’t, the Scottish Government’s radar turned very swiftly to the further education sector as their resistance did not carry as much political weight as the university principles hold.”