MSP hits out at fall in college numbers

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North East MSP Richard Baker has criticised the Scottish Government for under-funding Colleges in the North East.

The MSP made the comments after figures revealed there were over 300 fewer students at Banff and Buchan College in 2012-13 than there were the previous year.

The figures showed that there were 5,681 students at Banff and Buchan College in 2011-12 but this fell to 5,365 students in 2012-13. They also showed that there were 15,620 students studying at Aberdeen College in 2011-12 which fell to 13,707 in 2012-13 - a reduction of almost 2,000 students over the period.

Labour has said that student numbers at both colleges have been dropping consistently since 2007-08 and Mr Baker believes this is down to cuts college budgets by the Scottish Government.

Commenting, Richard Baker said: “These figures show the impact of the SNP’s cuts on North East colleges. At the very time our local businesses are crying out for more skilled workers our colleges are having to take on fewer students.

“The SNP will claim that they are prioritising full time places at college however we must remember that it is often those who cannot afford to study full time or those with young families who rely on part time courses and there is a risk that they will be starved of this opportunity.

“This is short-sighted and damaging for our local economy and the SNP must change their approach and ensure the new North East Scotland College has the resources it needs. I have now written to the Cabinet Secretary with these concerns asking him to take steps to ensure that student numbers do not fall any further and I hope to hear what steps he can take to reverse this worrying trend.”