Fife College staff morale at ‘all time low’ warns union

Light in the dark? The St Brycedale Campus at Fife College. Pic: FPA
Light in the dark? The St Brycedale Campus at Fife College. Pic: FPA
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Staff morale at Fife College is at rock bottom in the wake of budget cuts and merger programmes, according to a union survey.

Unison’s report ‘Learning the Hard Way’ - which analysed opinion from 14 colleges across Scotland - revealed 64 per cent of staff thought college services had declined, while 69 per cent blamed the Scottish Government’s merger policy.

A whopping 90 per cent of staff believed Scottish colleges were underfunded.

Chris Greenshields, chairman of Unison’s further education (FE) committee said, “This survey is damning.

“It’s no surprise that its one bad story after another in further education and our sector urgently needs a shot in the arm with additional ring fenced funding for staff to reverse the decline.

“Trust in management is at an all-time low, “ he added.

“Ordinary staff are appalled at the large pay-offs that unaccountable senior managers have been paying themselves while Unison members are working harder and longer hours to try to maintain the quality of services they offered before the mergers and redundancies across the whole sector.”

Fife College formed in 2013 through a merger between the former Adam Smith, Carnegie and elements of the former Elmwood College.

The move met significant challenges, including paying back £5,5m in European funding and managing estates deemed to be only 28 per cent fit-for-purpose.

In June, Fife College revealed 3600 student places would be axed this academic year.

A spokesman said the college valued Unison’s report and continued to work to improve morale.

He said: “It highlights important issues within the FE sector and we very much share their concerns.

“We are aware of the many challenges staff have faced over recent years including mergers and budget cuts. Funding remains a key challenge for us, like most other colleges in Scotland, as we continually strive to provide excellent learning and teaching environments for our students and staff.

“The merger process is ongoing at Fife College - we have just recently completed a major staff reorganisation and our introduction of new systems and procedures is still being carried out. We recognise these changes are challenging and place considerable pressure on staff.”

Unison, meanwhile, warned the Scottish Government and college management to listen to staff who were “delivering despite real problems.”

“If we don’t do something soon we can expect real industrial relation problems in the sector,” said Mr Greenshields.