College sector ‘accounts for nine per cent of Scotland’s income’

Written by Tom Freeman on 11 September 2015 in News

Report for Colleges Scotland highlights economic impact of FE sector

Further education colleges have a “significant impact” on Scotland’s economy and society, according to a new economic report commissioned by the sector’s representative body.

The research, carried out by international economic modelling specialists EMSI, suggests for every £1 of taxpayers money spent, the sector gives a return of £5.70. This is due to graduates contributing more via income tax because they are more likely to receive higher wages and a reduced demand for social services.

The report estimates the total added income created by Scotland’s colleges and their learners was equal to 8.8 per cent of the country’s economic output in 2013-14.

“We have a public investment which behaves as though it is a private investment,” said senior EMSI economist Dr Kjell Christophersen.


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He also suggested colleges benefitted society as a whole by reducing inequalities with reduced crime, lower unemployment and increased health and wellbeing.

Education Secretary Angela Constance welcomed the report, describing it as a “source of pride” for Scotland’s colleges, particularly after “the most profound set of public sector reforms in tertiary education for more than a generation”.

“Scotland’s colleges provide real tangible value to people’s lives, and this publication provides confirmation of what we already intuitively knew,” she said.

Scottish Labour Opportunity Spokesperson Iain Gray said the report vindicated his party’s approach to education policy.

“Closing the gap between the rich and the rest isn’t just a moral imperative but an economic one too.

“This research makes it all the more baffling why the SNP Government in Edinburgh has slashed funding for our colleges, with over 100,000 fewer colleges places and 7,000 staff gone. That’s short sighted for Scotland, our young people, and our economy,” he said.

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