25 Jun 2015
New figures have revealed exactly where in Scotland the SNP’s purge of part-time courses has hit hardest.
The report – shown to MSPs on Holyrood’s audit committee this week – revealed tens of thousands of places had gone in areas like Aberdeenshire, Fife, Glasgow and the Lothians on the SNP’s watch.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson challenged Nicola Sturgeon on the statistics at First Minister’s Questions today.
They show that 150,000 part-time courses have been cut since 2008, and replaced by only 9000 full-time ones.
This is despite pledges by the Scottish Government that people now denied the opportunity to study part-time would have more options to do so on a full-time basis.
The new statistics revealed 30,000 part-time places had been cut in Glasgow, 18,000 in Fife, 16,000 in Edinburgh and 20,000 across Aberdeenshire.
Part-time courses in college are vital for people wanting to change career, for single parents and for women returning to the workplace after having children.
Earlier this week, the Federation of Small businesses said one of the greatest fears of its members – even above tax and utility costs – was a lack of skills coming through.
However, today the First Minister simply said her own college reform programme was making it easier for people to go to college, and denied there was a problem at all.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:
“We knew the Scottish Government had cut tens of thousands of part-time college places and replaced them with only a smattering of full-time ones.
“But now we know where that axe has fallen geographically.
“Thousands of people, from Glasgow to Aberdeenshire, the Lothians to Lanarkshire, have been denied the opportunity to study in a way that is flexible to them.
“The SNP has slammed the door of opportunity in the face of thousands – people trying to change career, single parents and mothers simply trying to get the skills they need to get back into the workplace.
“It’s no wonder businesses are increasingly worried about the skills gap.
“The Scottish Government’s approach to colleges is failing students and failing business – the First Minister needs to explain what she is going to do to turn this around.”