Attainment gap grows in Scotland’s colleges
A report from Audit Scotland has revealed that the attainment gap between the richest and poorest college students has risen between 2012 and 2017.
The in depth report has found that the attainment gap rose by 2 per cent over the period, with college student numbers falling by over 22,000 in that period. Despite a slight rise in overall college enrolment over the last year, which EIS president Larry Flanagan attributed to the “hard work of college staff and students alike’, total student numbers are still 130,000 below the enrolment rate in 2007.
College finances are also in a bind. The Scottish college system has moved from an £8 million deficit to a small surplus, but college lecturers are being offered a real terms pay cut of only 2.5 per cent - below the rate of inflation over this period. The buildings themselves are also in a sorry state. Only 7 per cent of the £360 million maintenance backlog has been accounted for by the Scottish Government.
Responding to the report, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:
“Labour believes everyone has the right to go on to further and higher education and that colleges deserve proper support from the government. But this report once again highlights the lack of support Scotland’s colleges have received under the SNP government.
“Independent experts at Audit Scotland have revealed that the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest in our colleges is rising. They have revealed a £360million maintenance backlog, running the risk of leaving our colleges in disrepair. And they have once again highlighted a fall in student numbers since the SNP’s reforms, with more and more pupils finding a vital college education simply too expensive in the face of SNP cuts to bursaries. That is unacceptable.
“The SNP could have used their response to the Independent Review of Student Support to overhaul the student finance system, but they chose not to do so. Only Labour will make the richest pay their fair share to ensure a fairer deal for Scotland’s students.”