Scots FE colleges forced to cut staffing

March 24, 1995

The threat of compulsory redundancies is looming in Scotland's further education colleges following the latest funding allocations from the Scottish Office Education Department.

Falkirk College of Technology must save Pounds 670,000 over the next year, the equivalent of 35 jobs, which is almost 9 per cent of its workforce.

Graham Clark, the college principal, said he could not guarantee that there would not be compulsory redundancies. All staff aged 50 and over by the end of August will be asked to apply for voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

John Sellars, chief executive of the Employers' Association for Scottish Further Education Colleges, said that about nine institutions had been badly hit in the latest funding round, and predicted an overall loss of 5 per cent of the sector's 5,000 staff. Around 10 per cent of the workforce in some colleges had already gone, with support from the Scottish Office Education Department's restructuring fund, he said.

"We hope that a further reduction in the lecturing staff can still be done by voluntary means, and compulsory redundancy will be a last resort, but it must not be ruled out at this stage," he said.

Falkirk College and the Employers' Association say the difficulties spring largely from the shift to a new student-based Government funding formula, although this has not yet been fully implemented. Until 1993, colleges were funded by local authorities on an historical basis, but this year 40 per cent of their grant has been calculated on the basis of weightings for different types of course.

Jack Dale, further and higher education secretary of the Education Institute of Scotland, said: "It's absurd that a mechanical change in the system for providing finances to colleges should place an individual college in this kind of jeopardy. We can't accept that Falkirk can offer the same services and quality by arbitrarily shedding staff." The EIS will raise the problem at a meeting with the SOED next month.

Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, issuing his report on further education over the past year, said the colleges had made good progress and were continuing to manage enthusiastically the changes and challenges arising from incorporation.

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