The Principal and Chief Executive of Cardonald College Glasgow, Susan Walsh, has agreed to work with Cardonald students on finding a long-term funding solution for colleges that focuses on optimising the number of student places, the quality of education and local access for all.
The Principal's Promise (see below) is part of NUS Scotland's Our Future, Our Fight campaign to restore an £11m cut to student support in the Scottish Government's proposed budget (see note 2). A picture of the Principal and Students' Association President with the signed pledge can be found here.
Over 66,000 emails have been sent to MSPs through NUS Scotland's Our Future, Our Fight campaign from students, staff and members of the community calling on the Parliament to protect student support budgets, and protect places, quality and local access.
Cardonald College Glasgow Principal and Chief Executive Susan Walsh said: “I welcome our students’ campaign to find a sustainable funding solution for colleges in Scotland that is focused on frontline teaching delivery, optimising the number of student places, and local access for all.
"At Cardonald, we believe the best way of supporting and protecting students is to listen to our student community and in the coming weeks we will be working with them to raise awareness of NUS Scotland’s Our Future Our Fight campaign”.
Stefanie Miller, President of Cardonald College Glasgow Students' Association and a member of NUS Scotland's Executive Committee, said: "Students at Cardonald College are proud that our principal is the first in Scotland to sign up to NUS Scotland's Principal’s Promise.
"The Scottish Parliament is being asked to make an £11m reduction in student support, despite every SNP candidate commitment to students to improve student support, a promise they repeated in the SNPs election manifesto. We need Scottish Government and MSPs and to back up these words with deeds, and restore student support for college students.
"Over 66,000 emails have been sent to MSPs from people across Scotland, including more than 2800 from Cardonald students alone, asking them to improve student support when it comes to voting on the Budget. This is the biggest campaign our students have ever taken part in, and demonstrates how strongly we feel about a cut to bursary support. The Government's proposed cuts to student support must be reversed to help our students continue their studies and to avoid unemployment."
Kelley Temple, NUS Scotland Women's Officer said: "It is excellent news that Cardonald College Glasgow's principal has backed her students by signing on to the Principals Pledge.
"College bursaries are a vital lifeline for students at Cardonald and other colleges across Scotland, and cuts to financial help to the poorest students could threaten to undermine efforts to tackle youth unemployment in Scotland.
"If students don't get the financial help they need to study then we'll consign many more young people to benefits, whether through drop out or through people not being able to study in the first place.
"As we approach the budget vote in the Scottish Parliament, we hope that other college principals show the leadership of Cardonald's principal and join their students in working to reverse the proposed cuts to student support. Otherwise, we risk a youth unemployment merry-go-round with college cuts undermining the government's own efforts to tackle youth unemployment with young people not having the financial support to study, but at the same time not having the skills for work."
Principal's Promise text:
As the Principal of Cardonald College Glasgow I promise to:
Argue and campaign alongside my college's student association for a sustainable funding solution that is focused on optimising the number of student places, the quality of education and local access for all.
Help to finance a strong, autonomous and well-resourced student's association.
Prioritise access for those who need it the most and to publish figures on the inclusion and retention of the following groups: disabled, NEETs (not in education, employment or training), matures, MD20 (the poorest 20% of society).
Protect the quality of all college courses.
Improve retention rates by providing quality guidance, careers, counselling and student support services or refer to more appropriate professional help where applicable.
Though the process of any merger I will ensure that:
Students will be consulted from the outset of any merger process.
Student association officers will sit on any shadow board or merger committee.
Local access and the connection between campuses and their communities is protected.
Access to FE courses is protected on all campuses.
Avoid any unnecessary campus closures that would close as a result of the merger.
The Scottish Government has proposed an £11m cut to student support, reducing the current £95.6m budget to £84.2m from August onwards. Bursaries are discretionary funds provided to the poorest students in some of the poorest communities in Scotland, and are the only form of financial help provided to ensure people from all backgrounds can afford to study at college.