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Comment on Audit Scotland’s Report on Colleges

Commenting on the Audit Scotland briefing published on Thursday 7 September 2023, Shona Struthers Chief Executive of Colleges Scotland, said:

“This is a stark report which highlights a wide range of risks to the college sector in Scotland. The signals from Scottish Government are that helping people out of poverty is the top priority for all public bodies, and for colleges to continue to do this there has to be sustainable investment.

“Funding for the sector has reduced by 8.5 per cent in real terms between 2021/22 and 2023/24 which puts huge pressure on colleges to maintain delivery of education and training in an increasingly unsustainable environment. I want colleges to thrive as education providers, as community anchors, as great training hubs – but there has to be the investment available to unleash the potential which colleges have.

“Not every college is the same, but in common is the vital role colleges play in their local economies, in communities and with employers. Students going to college should have a great experience with fantastic resources and world-class learning opportunities – but this only comes with sustainable investment. Today’s report highlights the increasing risks from many factors including rising energy costs and inflation, competition for students, and a lack of funding available for colleges to meet their net-zero obligations. Some challenges are now really persistent and aren’t substantially changing over time.”

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