STAFF at Cupar’s Elmwood College held a ‘Day of Action’ on Tuesday in protest at funding cuts to colleges, which they claim will impact on opportunities for future generations.
The Scottish Funding Council has cut the money it gives to colleges across Scotland by more than 10 per cent.
As a result Elmwood College has had to introduce a £1 million cost saving programme, which could see jobs lost and courses cut.
The day of action, organised by the EIS teaching union and held on Elmwod’s lawn, aimed to raise public awareness of the threat to Further and Higher Education.
EIS spokesperson Gary Anderson said: “Colleges across Scotland are facing huge challenges in the face of a 10.4 per cent cut in funding from the Scottish Funding Council.
“This comes at a time of record demand for places as unemployment rises, in particular in the 16-24 age group.
He said unions at the college acknowledge that the cuts are being forced on them, because of funding cuts across the sector and, just as with all other businesses, colleges must be financially stable to remain viable.
Mr Anderson went on: “As the FE sector contracts to meet funding challenges, it reduces opportunities for learners at a time when education can help contribute to the Scottish economy and climb out of recession.
“There will be significant job cuts across the sector, which will undoubtedly impact on opportunities for future generations.
“Formal consultations have already begun at Elmwood.
“While recent voluntary redundancy has resulted in eight posts going, job losses already incurred from the college ceasing provision of access, art, design and multimedia will be increased as the college looks to make savings by cutting up to another 20 full-time posts.”
“Elmwood’s cost saving programme will impact not only on the educational opportunities for learners in north east Fife, but will also puts a number of jobs under threat.
“The college recently announced the closure of a number of departments, including art and design and multimedia.”
Backing the action, principal Jim Crooks said: “I am deeply saddened that the cuts in the public sector will impact significantly on further education and Elmwood in particular.
“The service that is provided by colleges is essential for recovery from recession as well as the future growth of the economy — and especially in north east Fife.
“When there is such a large demand for skills and training and such a significant growth in youth unemployment, we believe that additional investment in further education would be the right investment to make at this time.”
He added: “The board is committed to ensuring the financial sustainability of Elmwood College and work hard to mitigate the effects of funding cuts and they remain committed to maximising the effectiveness of funds available to them to provide learning and skills for the economy, for jobs and for life.”