The Fife branch of Scotland’s largest teaching union has passed a vote of no confidence in Fife College principal Hugh Logan.
The motion was passed at a branch meeting of the EIS on Tuesday afternoon after it expressed serious concerns over the running of the college.
The move came just days after Mr Logan declared he was to retire on October 31, but the Press understands that the two announcements are unconnected.
An EIS spokesman said it had no confidence in Hugh Logan and his senior management team to lead the college, nor with the college board.
The union listed a number of grievances with the college under Mr Logan’s reign, including the surprise closure of the automotive engineering courses and claimed there were “inaccuracies” in the business case behind its closure.
It also highlighted the college’s £1.9m ‘Arm’s Length Foundation’ (ALF), which there are plans to add to, saying the money could have been used to run the scrapped courses.
The spokesman also said there was a “continuing paucity of communication between senior management and stakeholders, including staff, students and local employers” adding there is also “a lack of communication between the board and staff”.
There is no call from EIS for a ballot on any action but the union says it will continue to campaign for the re-instatement of the Automotive Engineering Course and will oppose further “unjustifiable” course closures.
A college spokesman said it was “disappointed” with the declaration and had been addressing the issue of staff communication.
“We appreciate that the period since merger has been extremely challenging for staff and we recently undertook a staff survey to ensure we understood the areas that were causing staff most concern,” he said.
“The subject of ALF has been brought up on a number of occasions. The creation of Fife College’s ALF was in response to changes made by the Scottish Government to the way colleges are allowed to hold cash reserves.
“Fife College’s ALF was set up as the only option to retain cash reserves in line with guidance from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
Some of the monies currently in Fife College’s ALF have been earmarked for the new campus in Levenmouth and the intention is to use the balance to realise the college’s Estates Strategy, improving the learning experience for our students.
“If these monies had not been transferred to Fife College’s ALF, they would have been returned to SFC and lost to Fife College which would not be in the best interest of the college, our staff or our students.
“ALFs require to be independent of the college with a board of external trustees who are responsible for the funds on an ongoing basis. Although the money has been generated by the college it does not belong to the college and is not immediately available for the college to use.
“A robust case must be put forward to request funds from the ALF.”
The spokesman said the closure of the Automotive Engineering course was a decision that was not taken lightly.
“Key Performance Indicators are not at a level the college or Education Scotland find acceptable and although some improvement has been made in particular areas, the attainment levels are still below the national benchmark.
“Also, with limited opportunities for students to progress into local full-time employment within the automotive industry and the dwindling numbers of suitable applicants looking to study automotive programmes and then progress into the industry or higher level study, our course offering is no longer meeting the needs of our students, employers or the local economy.
“We appreciate the impact on staff from decisions that are made by the college’s Senior Management Team and the board of directors, however, as a College Management Team we are duty bound to ensure that our offering is fit-for-purpose, viable and future proof and we will continue to make difficult decisions which have the best interests of the college, our staff and our students at the heart.”