Glasgow & West Scotland

EIS march in Glasgow over college cuts

Teachers and lecturers have gathered in Glasgow for a protest against cutbacks in further education colleges.

About 100 members of the EIS union called for government action over the loss of jobs and student places.

They gathered at Holland Street at 10:30 BST before marching to a rally at the Royal Concert Hall.

The union said the number of students at college has dropped by 42,000 at a time of record youth unemployment.

And although the entire public sector is suffering the effects of austerity, Scottish further education colleges are being hit particularly hard, it claimed.

The past two years have seen funding cuts of 20% to colleges' teaching budgets, the union said, leading to 1,300 fewer further education college staff in the past year alone.

In his address to the rally, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The deep cuts to Scottish further education colleges are a disgrace - the produce of a programme of austerity that isn't working.

"These cuts are robbing many thousands of young people and adult learners of vital education and training opportunities which they both desperately need and thoroughly deserve.

"By removing these vital opportunities, the government is raising a spectre of mass youth unemployment that has not been seen since the age of 1980s Thatcherism."

Mr Flanagan also said further education is a "lifeline" for many young people - but many of these young people are now "having their aspirations crushed, their pathways forward blocked and their life-chances stymied."

He added: "Funding cuts, whether they are led by the UK or Scottish government, which continue to threaten the FE lifeline are unacceptable and must be rejected."

The Scottish government said that although there may be fewer students they are spending more time in college with a shift to full-time courses directly related to the workplace.

A spokesman added: "Scotland's college sector is supported by significant levels of funding from the Scottish government, including an additional £17m in the latest budget, and makes an important contribution to our economic growth.

"Improving the employability and life chances of our young people is fundamental to Scotland's economy which is why Scotland's colleges are prioritising delivery of full-time courses for the 16 to 24 age group."

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