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Scottish Government’s College Head Criticizes SNP Goals Despite Accusations of Student Failure

College Students (Credits: Daily Record)

An expert hired by the Scottish Government to help more students from disadvantaged backgrounds get into college and university says the current system needs important changes.

Professor John McKendrick, appointed a year ago to improve access to higher education, criticized the slow progress. He’s worried that upcoming cuts to college funding will make it harder for poorer students to pursue higher education.

Colleges are facing significant budget cuts, with a 4.7% reduction in funding for 2024/25 and an 8.5% cut from 2021 to 2023. This reduction could limit opportunities for students, especially those from poorer areas, who rely on colleges as a pathway to university.

SNP accused of treating colleges with contempt (Credits: EdCentral)

The Scottish Government aims to have 20% of students from the 20% most deprived areas by 2030. However, progress has been slow, with only about 16.5% of students meeting this criteria. Professor McKendrick stressed the importance of colleges in helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education.

He expressed concern that some courses might be cut, reducing opportunities for young people in the area. He emphasized that colleges provide crucial opportunities for young people and adults to realize their potential.

The Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, Liam Kerr MSP, criticized the SNP’s management of the education sector, calling Professor McKendrick’s comments a “damning verdict.” He highlighted the SNP’s cuts to the college sector, which disproportionately affect students from deprived backgrounds, especially those in rural areas.

Liam Kerr MSP (Credits: Holyrood)

The SNP government countered by stating that progress has been made in increasing the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education.

They acknowledged the challenging budget environment but affirmed their commitment to supporting universities and colleges with nearly £2 billion in funding for 2024/25 to maintain quality education, training, and research.

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