4th February 2013

Give youth a chance

Gaining a college place can significantly improve a young person’s life chances, by putting them on the road to university or their first job.

Indeed, our local college, James Watt, has been providing opportunities for young people to develop their skills and knowledge for years, whether it is in engineering, education or construction.

But the crucial role that our local college plays for young learners is being put in jeopardy by an Education Minister, who is hell bent on slashing budgets and forcing colleges to merge.

As a result of Mike Russell’s policies, courses are being removed and cut, and students are being denied places on the courses of their first choice and being forced to travel further for their second choice.

Just to make matters worse, grants given to the poorest students have been cut.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, many young learners are sitting it out on the so called waiting lists.

But whatever the rights and wrongs of the debate on waiting lists, what is even more damning, is the fact that nobody knows what happens to those students who are turned away.

Despite the serious difficulties that students are facing, Mike Russell continues to assert that all is well and good in the college sector.

During the debate on colleges in parliament last week, in a typically arrogant display, he dismissed the concerns of not only opposition parties, but of students, lecturers and college heads.

It’s simply not good enough for Mr Russell to abdicate all responsibility for the decisions he has made.

It’s time that he showed the colleges the same high regard that he has for himself and listen and act on their concerns.

He must take responsibility and reduce the barriers that are stopping our young people getting a fair shot in life.