Edinburgh College's planned cuts will lead to 130 job losses and cuts to courses, claims union

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‘Opportunities for communities will be narrowed’

Cuts planned at Edinburgh College will mean the loss of 130 jobs over the next three years and cuts to courses, with whole areas of the curriculum being closed, a union has claimed.

The lecturers’ union EIS-FELA said the cuts, totalling £7 million, would narrow the opportunities available to communities and hit vulnerable people the hardest.

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And it is holding a public meeting at Royston Wardieburn community centre at 6.30pm on Thursday, May 16, on the impact of the cuts.

Edinburgh College's Granton campus. Picture: Google.Edinburgh College's Granton campus. Picture: Google.
Edinburgh College's Granton campus. Picture: Google.

An EIS-FELA spokesman said: “The proposed cut of over £7m across the next three years will mean over 130 full time equivalent (FTE) job losses. This will undoubtedly result in whole areas of the curriculum being closed. Lecturing staff report being pared to the bone, with no more slack in the system. We are literally on our knees trying to keep this essential service alive.

"A broad and meaningful educational provision is vital to our communities and there is real concern that working class people in Edinburgh are seeing their opportunities narrowed to a very limited offering. Restricted curriculums do our communities a grave disservice, further disincentivising a generation of post-Covid teens already disengaged from mainstream education.

"Colleges serve those who are seeking to escape extreme poverty; they provide some of our most vulnerable people with confidence and direction in an increasingly unpredictable world. We have already seen our Events Management section brutally cut last year, precipitating a protracted period of industrial action for over six weeks. Ironically, this is in a city which is a global events and cultural hub.”

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The spokesman said a recent survey on college culture found systemic issues throughout the college, including a lack of vision and leadership, with staff feeling cut out of decision-making processes.

“The key driver of the crisis are the increasingly severe cuts enacted on colleges over several years by the Scottish Government. The lack of vision starts right at the very top. We are in a state of managed decline, with principals and Colleges Scotland’s lacklustre response exposing them as apparently willing vehicles of cuts programmes.

"The inevitable outcome will be a significant cut in the number of colleges across Scotland. Locally we will see provision shrink, and opportunities for the many will diminish to opportunities for the few.

"After coming through some difficult times, Edinburgh College is seeing the green shoots of growth, with applications up significantly for next year. Yet by cutting back at this moment in time local management make growth less, not more likely. Colleges are often people’s only chance at a decent education and that reducing our offering will actively harm the communities we serve."

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An Edinburgh College spokesperson said the college sector as a whole was facing unprecedented financial challenges due to year-on-year funding reductions and spiralling costs.

“Our key priority has to be to ensure the immediate and longer-term sustainability of our college, for our staff and our students. We must also shape a college that is fit for the future as we adapt to changes in demand for what we provide. We are at the heart of supporting economic growth, providing people with the skills they need to be successful, in a fast-changing world.

“Difficult decisions and choices have been made and will continue to be made as we ensure our offer meets demand and is relevant. It is vital that we are equipped to continue to provide quality teaching and support to students in areas of demand and growth and we are committed to engaging with staff on the future provision of our college.

"Edinburgh sits at the centre of Scotland’s economic ambitions and as the capital city’s college we have a huge responsibility to offer relevant qualifications and skills training. We have a key role to play in supporting businesses across Edinburgh and beyond.

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“Despite the challenges we face, staff across our college are deeply passionate and committed to delivering for the people, the communities and the businesses in our region. It is vital that the Scottish Government invests in our colleges to enable us to continue to do so.”

  • Edinburgh College EIS-FELA branch has organised a series of public meetings on the impact the cuts will have on local communities. The first of these meetings will take place on Thursday, May 16, at Royston Wardieburn Community Centre from 6.30pm. All members of the public are welcome.

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