A SECRETLY recorded video of Education Secretary Mike Russell being harangued by Edinburgh College students over funding cuts has become a campus hit.
The 11-minute video, filmed at Edinburgh College’s Granton campus, shows Mr Russell coming under fire from three student leaders who brand him a “liar” over his claims students have not been forced to leave college courses because of cuts.
It comes after a well-publicised furore over secret taping of the minister by the chairman of Glasgow’s Stow College, who later resigned.
This latest video has become an Edinburgh College-wide hit, notching up 500 YouTube views and earning the students who made it praise for attempting to hold Mr Russell to account.
It is understood Mr Russell was using the college as a private venue for a meeting with the Welsh Education Secretary just before Christmas when the students struck.
Kelly Parry, the student vice-president at Milton Road Campus, appeared in the film alongside James Moohan, student vice-president at Granton campus and student president John Martin. Ms Parry, 29, said: “The reaction to the video has been phenomenal, the students are really proud.
“Mike Russell coming into the college at all is a very contentious issue because of last year’s barbaric college cuts which have had a real impact on the quality of education. We are seeing more online learning and less contact between students and their lecturers. Bursaries are taking longer to process so students are having to live without any money and women, in particular, are having to leave the college because of the cuts.
“We’re really concerned that the figure Mike Russell put forward equates to a £34.6 million of cuts to college funding next year.”
Ms Parry, who is taking a sabbatical this year having studied social sciences, said that as far as she knew, Mr Russell was aware that he was being filmed.
She said: “We were having a campaign day with regards to the cuts and we had been taking photos of students holding up signs as to why they wanted Mike Russell to give us back the £34.6m.
“It was just a stroke of luck that Mike Russell happened to be in the college that day.”
Speaking of having called Mr Russell a liar, Ms Parry said: “I absolutely stand by that comment. He was saying students have not had to leave courses – that’s a total lie.”
Earlier this month, staff at the newly-formed college passed a unanimous motion of no confidence in Mr Russell. The move came amid ongoing concerns over cuts to college budgets and opposition towards the Scottish Government’s approach to post-16 education.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Student support has been maintained for college students and we have protected places.
“The points raised by the students in relation to college courses being stopped have already been raised with the college principal by Mr Russell. The Cabinet Secretary is always willing to directly engage with students, and indeed all stakeholders, on the issues facing our colleges.”
No-one was available for comment at the college.