31 Oct 2012
Thousands of college places for crucial subjects like maths, engineering and science have been cut over the past five years by the SNP, figures have revealed.
Last year there were only 69,827 students studying STEM subjects, which comprise science, technologies, engineering and maths.
That compares to 85,655 in 2007 when the SNP came to power, a fall of almost 16,000, and in the last two years alone the decline has been particularly steep.
And with at least 10,000 youngsters missing out on a college place earlier this year, it shows how the SNP cut backs have had a real impact on aspiring Scottish students.
It also coincides with businesses saying not enough qualified young people are emerging from Scotland’s education system to fill vacancies adequately.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, who obtained the figures through Parliamentary Questions, said:
“A workforce skilled in these subjects is integral to the future prosperity of Scotland.
“The SNP’s further education policy is obstructing youngsters from attaining qualifications in these crucial areas.
“Statistically graduates with qualifications in these STEM subjects have a far greater chance of finding suitable employment after education.
“The SNP has constantly expressed its desire to re-industrialise the Scottish economy, but cutting places in these subjects is preventing this from ever happening.
“The Scottish Government’s desire to maintain overall college places is costing the technology, engineering and maths sectors hugely, while the more expensive STEM courses are being replaced by cheaper alternatives in order to boost overall numbers.
“The SNP’s college strategy needs to be realigned to meet the needs of both students and the economy.
“Unless this is done, the SNP risks wasting the potential of our young people.”