Monday 18th January 2016
Our college have played a vital role in communities across Scotland for decades.
They have helped provide thousands of young people with the skills to get their first job.
Mums and dads looking for a second chance at an education have benefited hugely from their part-time courses.
And those with disabilities have become active members of our society thanks to their support.
Sadly, the crucial role they play has come under sustained attack in recent years due to Scottish Government reforms of the sector.
It has experienced deep cuts to funding, significant job losses and huge reductions in student numbers. Indeed, last week new statistics were released showing that numbers have plummeted by 150,000 since 2007.
To add to the woes facing the sector, a recent survey indicated that the mergers which brought together James Watt, Reid Kerr and Clydebank to form the West of Scotland regional model have failed to achieve their aims.
When the Scottish Government’s Education Minister Mike Russell forced through his reforms, he ignored the concerns of students and staff and asserted that they would turn our colleges from “good to great”.
But the survey which was commissioned by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teachers’ and lecturers’ union, found that almost 90% of college lecturers taking part did not believe the mergers had improved learning and teaching quality.
It also highlighted the detrimental impact the mergers have had on staff morale with many now on the brink of industrial action.
The Scottish Government must listen to the concerns raised by students and staff.
It must act to restore student numbers, put back the funding they have taken away and give far greater help to staff to help make the mergers work.
If they don’t, communities like Inverclyde will suffer the consequences.