Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for South Scotland, has today said that the UNISON college survey results are a damning indictment of the SNP’s damaging reforms to our colleges.
The MSP made the comments during today’s Education Question Time in the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Hume slammed the Education Secretary’s response when she said that the Scottish Government’s further education reforms “are a good example of public service reform”.
Mr Hume said:
“The UNISON survey is a damning indictment of the Scottish Government’s appalling record on further education.
“65% of staff feel that services have got worse in the last 2 years. Part time college places have been slashed. Students are being turned away from courses. Shockingly, there are 80,000 fewer female students than compared with a few years ago.
“The SNP have got it badly wrong on further education with their damaging double whammy of college mergers and funding cuts. It’s bad for staff morale and development, and it’s bad for access to flexible further education affecting students with caring responsibilities and people from lower income backgrounds.
“The SNP are single handedly widening the opportunity gap.
“If the SNP think that’s a good example of public service reform, they need to go back to the drawing board.”
Notes to editors:
Borders College staff took part in the survey.
A copy of the UNISON survey report can be found here: http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/FEinScotland.pdf
Summary of Key Findings:
A UNISON report from a survey of staff in Scottish colleges, shows real problems caused by funding cuts, the college mergers programme and unaccountable college senior managers - and real concern amongst staff that education services for students are declining. The report Learning the Hard Way is published today (25 September 2015)
Its findings include: over 6 in 10 staff (64%) think college services have declined; 7 in 10 (69%) blame the Scottish Government’s merger policy; the vast majority of staff (77%) are extremely doubtful that services will improve within the next year; most staff (72%) are dissatisfied with opportunities for their own advancement; 9 in 10 (90%) staff believe Scottish colleges are underfunded.
UNISON are warning that the sector is in real trouble and highlight the key role it plays in the Scottish economy and social justice - providing skills development, wider access to education and improved opportunities for students from lower income backgrounds.
Chris Greenshields, chair of the UNISON FE Committee said, “This survey is damning. It’s no surprise that its one bad story after another in F.E. and our sector urgently needs a shot in the arm with additional ring fenced funding for staff to reverse the decline. Trust in management is at an all-time low. Ordinary staff are appalled at the large pay-offs that unaccountable senior managers have been paying themselves while UNISON members are working harder and longer hours to try to maintain the quality of services they offered before the mergers and redundancies across the whole sector.
Chris continued, ‘College management and the Scottish Government need to listen to the staff. We are here to work with the Scottish Government to make that vital difference. But it is getting increasingly difficult. Its time warm words are translated into better pay and conditions for staff who are delivering despite real problems. If we don’t do something soon we can expect real industrial relation problems in the sector.’
College staff responded to survey from: Ayrshire College, Borders College, City of Glasgow College, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Forth Valley College, Clyde College, Kelvin College, New College Lanarkshire, North East Scotland College, South Lanarkshire College, West College Scotland, West Lothian College, Highlands and Islands University
Key findings include:
90% say sector underfunded.
64% of staff think service has declined over last two year against 15% saying improved. 69% blame the merger process
77% doubtful or extremely doubtful that services will improve within 1 year
72% of respondents say dissatisfied or very dissatisfied in opportunities for advancement.
85% of members agree that in-house services are more effecient
staff morale at rock bottom with 79% of respondents are negative about the future of services.
63% said lack of transparency on mergers and 70% say trust levels in management low.
75% say the job evaluation processes is secretive process.