Edinburgh College to axe 70 staff members

Mandy Exley, principal of Edinburgh College, made the job cuts announcement at Monday meetings. Picture: Lesley Martin
Mandy Exley, principal of Edinburgh College, made the job cuts announcement at Monday meetings. Picture: Lesley Martin
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EDINBURGH College is to slash its headcount by 70 and axe dozens of teaching posts as part of a drive to balance the books.

Job loss details came as bosses at the problem-hit super college confirmed they were battling to overcome a £1.7 million deficit amid persistent funding pressures and higher-than-expected costs.

They said cuts would be split between teaching and support staff as they bid to hit a “break-even” financial target next year.

The redundancies were announced by principal Mandy Exley during meetings at all four of the college’s city campuses on Monday.

Student leaders have said the development is evidence that the Scottish Government does not “value” colleges.

They have demanded Education Minister Michael Russell “put the money where his mouth is” on student jobs by investing properly in cash-strapped campuses across Scotland.

Kelly Parry, president of Edinburgh College Students’ Association, said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Scottish Government doesn’t value colleges.

“While universities are enjoying increased budgets, Edinburgh College faces cuts, year on year, and it’s our students and staff who are suffering. We’re extremely disappointed that the college is in the position of laying people off.

“It’s never in students’ interests for these experienced staff to lose their jobs and the college will be a poorer place without them.”

Union leaders said they believed about 30 lecturers’ jobs would be lost through the latest redundancy round and stressed they were not consulted ahead of Monday’s announcements.

Mike Cowley, of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, said: “We would urge our board not to proceed with a further deterioration in staff numbers, and certainly not to entertain compulsory redundancies.”

“Such a threat [of job losses] would be met with a robust response, up to and including a ballot on industrial action consistent with national EIS FELA (Further Education Lecturers Association) policy.”

The job cuts row is the latest in a series of controversies to hit the teaching institution, which was formed in 2012 through the merger of Stevenson, Telford and Jewel & Esk colleges.

Managers said they were doing all they could to boost efficiency and align services with “national priorities” in the face of an ongoing budget squeeze.

An Edinburgh College spokeswoman said: “We are currently consulting on a curriculum review to work towards a demand led, effective and efficient curriculum.

“Our £1.7m deficit was projected for this point in the merger, as was a reduction in staffing of 17 per cent across teaching and support.”

She added: “Due to reduced funding, pressure on commercial income and higher than budgeted costs, we need to make savings to achieve planned break-even next year.”

Ministers said they were determined to preserve student places in Edinburgh and Scotland, adding “an additional £51m” would be pumped into colleges by 2015-16.