We must help people into education, not shut them out

southside_soyriaSoryia Siddique is a Labour Councillor in Southside Central ward in Glasgow, and is also a college lecturer. She says FE cuts are damaging life chances.


As a further education college lecturer, I have seen the damage SNP cuts are doing to FE colleges. This government is not only cutting the funding; it is cutting people’s life chances.

It is well documented that over 140,000 places have been cut by the SNP government. Nearly 7 million college learning hours have been cut back.

In 2012 my maiden speech at full council was the request below to Scottish Government’s Education Secretary:

“Council recognises the fantastic work carried out by Glasgow’s colleges and cherishes the opportunities they extend to the people of Glasgow and beyond.

Council is clear that, given the economic and employment downturns impacting so harshly on Glasgow, the further education sector is one that needs to grow, to afford those struggling to find work the chance to learn a skill set or develop existing qualifications. Consequently, Council requests that the Chief Executive write to the Scottish Government’s Education Secretary to reconsider the far-reaching cuts being levelled at further education and commit to sufficient funding for Glasgow’s colleges.”

However, over the last few years we’ve seen the sector reorganised, we’ve moved away from the smaller independent colleges and towards our larger city wide colleges. You only have to look at the figures.

There’s been a 40% drop in the number of students enrolled in colleges, with an astonishing 34,000 part time places lost in Glasgow’s colleges between 2008/9 and 2013/14. These aren’t my numbers, these are numbers coming from the Scottish Funding Council.

In particular the fall in part time places is having a big impact – with women being hit especially hard. Maybe it’s someone with caring responsibilities, or someone trying to hold down part time work to help them fund their studies, or any number of other circumstances – we should be trying to make sure we can help as many people as possible into education – not shutting them out because of this inflexibility.

We’re all tightening our belts, but it seems that colleges are facing disproportionately high cuts in favour of universities. Of course we all want world class universities – and we’re all proud of our three here in Glasgow – but we need to make sure education is there to help everyone and not just those going to university. The Scottish Government need to make sure they’re supporting our colleges and not cutting people out.

Education needs to be there for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. It’s there to help people to learn new skills, to improve their job prospects and to help them get on in life. Colleges have helped so many – let’s make sure they continue to help people across Glasgow and across Scotland in the years ahead too.

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28 thoughts on “We must help people into education, not shut them out

  1. Its a better known fact that there are more college places available in Scotland than there are potential Scottish students to fill them.
    No subject is neglected nor unavailable in Scotland.
    Go to any Scottish college website see whats on offer and tell me which one is being neglected or is offering inadequate choices.
    Please feel free to list them all below.

  2. Can anybody name a single student in Scotland who didn’t get a College place because it wasn’t available to them?
    If so please name the college and course.

  3. “As a further education college lecturer, I have seen the damage SNP cuts are doing to FE colleges. This government is not only cutting the funding; it is cutting people’s life chances.”

    Soryia the SNP Government have spent more on Scotland’s colleges than Labour ever did, with college resource budgets of £526m in 2015/16. SNP have also delivered their commitment to maintain 116,000 full-time equivalent college places and have exceeded that target every year since 2011.

    Soryia lets take a fresh look at the Scottish Labour it has yet again as you have demonstrated fallen back to its usual default position of SNP bad bad bad, as a college lecturer you do the education profession and your colleagues in that sector a disservice by taking it down I expect that if you keep on bleating about the SNP you are more than likely to get voted out at the next council elections.

    1. “Soryia the SNP Government have spent more on Scotland’s colleges than Labour ever did”

      The comparison of the 2007 figure of £510 million and the 2016 figure of £526 million is extraordinarily dishonest. In between those two dates, the SNP made almost continual real-terms cuts to college funding. Indeed, inflation-only increases in college funding, to maintain it at 2007 levels, would require it to be at £659 million today. So the £526 million quoted is a massive real-terms cut.

      1. In other words you’re telling us they streamlined college education and funding to make it more cost effective without compromising on course content or course availability.

        Why didn’t you just say so in those terms?

        1. Because that would be complete rubbish, Mike. They cut college funding. You can call it “streamlining” or “efficiency” just like the Tories do when they are describing their cuts, but everyone can see through it. They cut college funding, they cut college places, and all you do is lie about it.

          1. There is no shortage of course places or course choices in Scotland Duncan so if there has been cuts as you claim then clearly streamlining is the result.
            A trimming down of excess obviously.
            And with a trimming down of excess you get a trimming down of cost and budget.
            Cost efficiency in other words.

            No wonder Labour are going to be left fighting over list seats next year.

  4. “140,000 places have been cut by the SNP government. ” oh my goodness! really?
    But when you look at the actual report by the Scottish Funding Council they had this to say:-

    “which explained it expected student numbers would drop after colleges were told to prioritise courses that would improve people’s chances of finding work, and reduce the number of people on short courses and leisure classes.”

    So leisure and part time courses that do not improve chances of finding a job are cut to maximise the life chances of our future workforce – is a bad thing? really?

    “34,000 part time places lost in Glasgow’s colleges between 2008/9 and 2013/14.”

    funnily enough the cutting of one/two hour courses, in order to preserve a diminishing budget, is needed to provide full time education or vocational training to help young people into work -and is a sensible course.

    When we have a Tory Government hell bent on slash and burn and a Labour party voting with them to preserve the Fiscal Charter, and to deny the devolution of benefits to Scotland – there cannot be enough money to go around and prioritising the work chances of future generations is the most important

    1. What a litany of dishonesty.

      First, not all the part-time courses cut were “liesure” courses. Note the carefully placed “and” in that quote. Many of the cut courses would have improved people’s chances of finding work.

      Second, Nicola Sturgeon herself admitted, after her utterly dishonest election campaign, that the fiscal charter did not commit the UK government to austerity. It was fully debunked here: http://labourhame.com/the-big-lie-how-the-snp-deceived-the-scottish-public/

      1. “Many of the cut courses would have improved people’s chances of finding work.”

        Name one Duncan. And while you’re at it name a single college student in Scotland who has failed to get a college place because it doesn’t exist.

      2. You’re having a laugh. You’re not seriously claiming a Labour claim made within this site has the power to convince anybody something was debunked as a consequence?

        You know Duncan in a way you have to admire a man who cares so little for his reputation.
        Its almost classy to see somebody belittle themselves deliberately.

      3. “First, not all the part-time courses cut were “liesure” courses.”…never said that, in fact I think you’ll find the following sentence

        “So leisure and part time courses that do not improve chances of finding a job are cut to maximise the life chances of our future workforce – is a bad thing? really?”
        is entirely mine, not a quote taken from somewhere else.

        “Many of the cut courses would have improved people’s chances of finding work.”
        Think you’re going to have to prove that with examples rather than ipse dixit

        As to the debunking of the fiscal charter and £30bn….It appears that the rest of the world disagrees with you that the cuts were not included…for example below

        But support from shadow chancellor Ed Balls saw the charter, which includes plans to slash public spending by a further £30 billion, passed by a whopping 515 votes to 18.- The Morning Star 15th January

        1. Nicola Sturgeon agrees with me, as evidenced in the piece I linked. Was she lying?

          1. So rather than deal with your mistaken comments on further education, and either substantiate or retract them, you focus on the fiscal charter.

            If you read the referenced document, whilst it does make vague reference to the aims it goes into great detail regarding the scope and role of the OBR. The combination of Osborne’s proposed welfare changes also outlined plus Tue significant role the OBR now written in law means the cuts are essentially binding whilst Gideon and the OBR agree.

            Latest from the OBR , minimum permanent £20bn cut….

            Labour knew this.

            Nicola said it allows flexibility but only with a willing government…. Which we do not have….

          2. Amazing piece of doublethink. Nicola says it allows flexibility, but you are absolutely determined to pretend that that doesn’t mean it allows flexibility so that you can have yet another potshot at Labour. Jeezo.

  5. And where does this extra money come from ? Perhaps from the same magic money tree that labour is going to use to mitigate the tax credit cuts.

    That’s the tax credits that labour voted with the Tories NOT to devolve to the Scottish government, just in case you think anyone has forgotten.

    We would all like to have the money that labour had when they were in government, then we could finance education to the levels that even the labour party could accept. ??? Maybe.

    But after labour’s great contribution to destroying the economy that money is no longer available, so come on let’s see where the real money is to come from to finance all these collage places. Fess up labour where ?

    PS, I am a big fan of local college’s, it’s where I got my SNC and HND from , three years full time.

  6. Well said Soryia.This is exactly why Scottish Labour.made the right decision when they voted against squandering £167 billion on Trident renewal.

    1. It’s a pity labours masters down south disagree with that decision, oh don’t forget Jackie Baillie also.

      167 billion, you can buy a lot of education with that type of dough, plus houses, food for food banks in fact all manner of actual useful things.

    2. And “Scottish” Labour descision was taken as an irrelevance by the real Labour party who plan to vote down the upcoming SNP motion or abstain – as usual

  7. I know I placed a comment on this posting ? could someone point me in the direction of ” a place for open debate” it appears to have gone missing.

  8. So which courses are missing? Which vital job winning courses are unavailable in Scotland? Anybody?

  9. Funny how the reply button disappears just in time for you to have the last word?

    You stated
    “Amazing piece of doublethink. Nicola says it [..the fiscal charter…] allows flexibility, but you are absolutely determined to pretend that that doesn’t mean it allows flexibility so that you can have yet another potshot at Labour. Jeezo.”

    It will allow flexibility if a government is not committed to austerity….the Tories are…and Labour knew it when they trotted into the aye lobby to vote with them..

    this mud sticks no matter how hard you try to distance Labour from it…
    i quoted the Morning Star

    How about Hansard (Osborne)

    “yet he finds himself in the extraordinary position of asking the Labour party to vote for a charter that requires £30 billion of more consolidation.”

    “They had ended up supporting a charter that they had previously rejected, a timetable to which they had previously refused to sign up and £30 billion of cuts they had previously denounced.”

    “The shadow Chancellor faces a choice. He can either confirm by voting for this charter that he accepts the £30 billion of deficit reduction required to fulfil the objectives, in which case, since he does not approve of our spending plans, he admits that there will be major tax rises under a Labour Government”

    Labour went into that vote with their eyes open having it fully spelt out what supporting the charter would mean

    1. It was before the election, genius. Labour were campaigning to get rid of the Tory government. Your argument is self-serving nonsense. The Charter allows for flexibility, and Labour is not responsible for Tory policies.

      1. irrelevant…

        they were warned what it would entail, and no one with a rational grasp of reality thought for 1 microsecond that Labour were going to be in a position to form any sort of government let alone a majority.

        Labour knew that in the event of a Tory Coalition or Majority government they were giving them carte blanche to do as they pleased….

        and were repeatedly warned by the tories that this is what it would entail before voting (hansard) yet they did it anyway. Despite a long history of abstaining on any tricky vote – they voted for it to send a clear message to the South of England that Labour were prepared to go as far as the Tories

        Chukka Umuna warned that the nonsense spouted by Jim Murphy about “no cuts in Scotland” was exactly that – nonsense.

        Umuna stated that Scottish Labour do not set Labour fiscal policy and therefore “no cuts” were off the table.

        The charter makes very specific reference to the OBR recommendations and the OBR are still committing to at least a £20bn cut.

        Labour may not be responsible for Tory fiscal possible but they are responsible for facilitating it’s implementation – no matter how you wriggle with the truth.

        Note you have made no attempt to challenge any of my comments regarding College Education despitre calling it a “litany of dishonesty”

        1. Please be reassured that not responding to a comment does not indicate agreement with it.

          You talk almost exclusive mince, so you’d be better off taking it as read that I disagree with you unless I say otherwise.

          I think we’re done on this topic. You’re peddling a lie and you’ve used enough of my bandwidth to do it.

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