Friday 29-01-2016 - 10:01
This is a guest blog be Angela Alexander, Student President at Ayrshire College Student Association.
I have spoken at recent Further Education Zone Committee meetings about regionalisation and the impact it has had on colleges in Scotland through my own experience.
I came into post as Student President in the first year of regionalisation and it caused many problems throughout this period. From industrial action due to disagreements on legacy college pay packets to vast numbers of staff being offered voluntary severance as well as the amount of college places being cut for part time and short term courses but being increased for full time college places. This left students feeling unsure about their own futures in college and was an uneasy time for all involved.
There has been an increase in the number of learning hours but making it harder for some to access college. There has been a decrease in the number of people applying for courses in their 30s, 40s and 50s - which surely is proof enough that responsibilities are restricting them from entering full time education.
The emphasis is on getting young people to ready for work which is great if employment is what you are hoping for but what about those adults who weren’t as successful at school and want to improve their skills and can only cope with short term commitments.
Some courses are now only delivered on specific campuses which mean that for students wishing to study a specific course may have to travel up to around 50 miles per day. The government have paid the increase in costs for students to travel this distance but it makes it extremely difficult for those with caring responsibilities to attend college.
Moreover, there have been 140,000 student places cut across the sector.
The purpose of this money saving scheme was to ‘save colleges’ and save £60 million a year however figures that were released recently show that regionalisation so far has cost £90 million in voluntary severance and travel costs alone.
How is this ensuring that anyone from any background access college? Tackling inequalities is one of the priorities in this process but it seems that regionalisation is doing the opposite.