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SNP under fire over fall in college staff numbers

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said colleges have faced under-investment over the past decade.

Labour MSP Iain Gray claims higher education has suffered since the SNP took power in 2007 (Mark Runnacles/PA)
Labour MSP Iain Gray claims higher education has suffered since the SNP took power in 2007 (Mark Runnacles/PA)

The number of full-time staff working at colleges in Scotland fell by 13.5% in just over a decade, according to analysis by Scottish Labour.

Figures from the Scottish Funding Council show there were 12,653 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees at colleges across the country in 2007/2008.

However by 2017/2018, the number had dropped to 10,942 – a decline of 1,711 staff.

The statistics also show the number of FTE teaching staff fell over the same period – down by 12.7% from 6,311 to 5,512.

For too long further education has been seen by the SNP as the poor relation - that must end Scottish Labour MSP Iain Gray

Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray claimed the figures highlight a failure by the SNP within Scotland’s further education sector.

He said: “Colleges are key to jobs and growth, not to mention their important role in widening access to opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

“Since the SNP took power, and their subsequent botched regionalisation of the sector, further education in Scotland has suffered. Colleges have faced under-investment, students have seen their numbers plummet by 120,000 and staff numbers have also declined.

“What’s more, staff and students are working in buildings in need of repairs totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Hard-working lecturers are now also engaged in industrial action over a cost-of-living pay rise to which they are entitled.

“For too long further education has been seen by the SNP as the poor relation. That must end.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Since college regionalisation in 2013, college lecturer headcount figures have increased by 400, and full time equivalent (FTE) have increased by 100.

“We continue to support the college sector through significant capital and revenue investment. Since 2007, we have invested more than £6 billion into Scotland’s colleges.”

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