Colleges meet student number targets
Latest SFC figures reveal colleges are exceeding student number targets, but opposition parties argue numbers still 150,000 lower than 2007
Thurso Engineering - North Highland College UHI
Scotland’s colleges have exceeded their student number targets, according to the latest Scottish Funding Council (SFC) figures.
The sector delivered 117,204 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) student places in 2015-16, 935 more than the 116,269 FTE target it was set to guarantee its funding.
The number of students at Scottish Colleges increased by 339 from the previous year to 227,258.
Colleges Scotland said the figures were “solid achievements”, while opposition parties pointed out the number of students is 150,000 fewer than when the SNP came to power.
Colleges Scotland Chief Executive, Shona Struthers, said: “There is much more work to do to keep the figures going in the right direction, but these are solid achievements, particularly during what has been a time of significant change and reform in the college sector.”
Minister for Further and Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said: “The SFC statistics published today give us a great overview of the fantastic work being done in the college sector and also highlights areas where we know there is more work to do.”
She said the Scottish Government had pledged £41.5m additional funding in the budget.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said the figures were “deeply concerning”, pointing to the drop since the SNP came to power.
“The SNP’s record on education since they came to power is shameful, and they need to reverse their draconian cuts to college funding as soon as possible,” she said.
Labour Inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon said: "SNP ministers are always focused on the short term, but the long term damage of this disastrous approach to colleges is now evident - slower growth, stagnating wages and rising levels of economic inactivity.”
Scottish Labour will seek to inflict an early defeat to the Scottish Government’s budget in an opposition debate today, ahead of the official vote in February.
Meanwhile, college funding featured in a list of demands made by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie if the SNP are to count on his party’s support for the budget.
“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,” he wrote in a letter to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.
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