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Figures reveal thousands are being turned away from college

January 2, 2013 12:01 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Figures obtained by Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Liam McArthur MSP, have revealed that colleges across Scotland are unable to offer places to thousands of applicants.

Freedom of Information requests to colleges found that South Lanarkshire College had to turn away 569 suitable applicants in 2012/13. North Glasgow College had to shut its doors to 936 students due to a lack of places.

Mr McArthur has criticised the SNP government for planning to slash a further £34 million out of the college budget at a time when unemployment remains far too high and demand for college places is outstripping supply.

Commenting on the figures, Mr McArthur said:

"The Education Secretary needs to think again on his planned college cuts. These figures show that up and down Scotland, colleges are being forced to turn away applicants due to a lack of places. How can the SNP government seriously expect to tackle unemployment if it is slashing over £30 million out of college budgets when they need it most?

"James Watt College was unable to accommodate 1,261 students in 2012/13. That is 1,261 missed opportunities. It rings alarm bells that many of our colleges are turning applicants away due to a lack of places.

"Those who attend colleges often face different circumstances than university applicants. They tend to look for courses on their doorstep and family commitments may mean they cannot relocate to another city. What happens when there's no room at their local college? These figures show that the SNP's decision to cut college budgets could have serious ramifications to the lives of our aspiring learners.

"Interestingly, our figures also show that applicants may also be languishing on waiting lists. City of Glasgow College had 8,021 applicants on waiting list this year alone. I hope that the college waiting list audit can shed some light on this but it is clear that there are questions to be answered about whether this really is best practice.

"I remain concerned about the pace and extent of college mergers being demanded by the Education Secretary. These figures demonstrate a need to review access and seek to widen it across both further and higher education sectors. In our universities and our colleges, it is clear that we still have a long way to go to achieve fair access to education.

"Mike Russell will only be stoking the flames of unemployment if he goes ahead with plans to cut £34 million out of the college budget."