Created on: 31 Aug 2022 | Last modified: 23 Feb 2023
Stop Argyll College closing Art and Hospitality Departments – Save Lecturers’ Jobs and Student’s Education
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Argyll College opened in 2000 with the promise of providing further education opportunities to the rural communities, allowing people to live at home, continue working, looking after family, fulfilling caring duties but still be able to study without having to travel and live away from home.
A diverse range of courses have been offered over the years, all of which have helped springboard people into new jobs and new skills, to open their own businesses, and to generally add to our thriving community. Our community thrives on the hospitality industry, and a growing reputation for good food and accommodation.
This industry has in turn supported other sectors including the arts and crafts sector which has drawn many people specifically to the area for the rich diversity of talent and skills.
We are now facing closure of both the Hospitality and Cookery department and the Arts department thus removing the opportunity for people to study up to HNC level in these areas. The college management claims the courses are not financially viable due to a drop in numbers, but given we are just emerging from two very difficult years for everyone, we feel that this action is both premature and ill advised.
In addition, we feel that insufficient marketing has been carried out in the right places in order to attract more students. The students who have applied have now been turned away.
There are other courses which are oversubscribed which could support the lesser subscribed courses until such time as things are back on an even keel. Ultimately the college is there to provide opportunity and education for our local communities – NOT to make a profit.
Four members of staff are now facing redundancy. This petition is an opportunity for anyone with an interest and passion for education and learning to support what we feel is an essential service for our communities.
We are asking the Senior Management Team and Board of Management of the College to reconsider their decision to cut these courses and make staff redundant. This petition is an opportunity for anyone with an interest and passion for education and learning to show support for what we feel is an essential service for our communities.
To whom it may concern,
My name is Codrut Bajko and I am a former student at the Oban College. I started by taking the cookery course back in 2018 and I never thought it would define my career goals. After the first course, I decided I needed to go further so I took the next level of the cookery course and then, the following year, I decided to take the highest course I could – Hospitality and Events Management. I am an older guy compared to the usual students and also foreign – so my first language is not English. What I thought would be a challenging and hard time turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Due to the courses I’ve taken and the patience and hard work of the lecturers, I have gained the knowledge and confidence to further my career and become a head chef and eventually open my own business - now I am the proud operator of The Fish Box in Oban. They have all went above and beyond to help me with anything that I needed, including advice after I finished the course.
I have learned that sadly, the cookery course is no longer running. This was a huge disappointment as my daughter was very keen on taking the cookery course this year as she has been working with me in the kitchen for the past year and a half. She was so determined to do this that she actually dropped out of high school just so that she could go to college and also continue to work in the kitchen.
The hospitality industry has suffered tremendously in the past couple of years due to Covid and Brexit and it seems that instead of trying to revive it and move it forward it is being kept at the same stale pace. The lack of staff throughout the industry is a huge issue and it will not be solved by cancelling the courses that would help people get a job in this sector.
I recently found out that the NC and HNC in hospitality at UHI have been cancelled permanently with staff being made redundant...... this has really shocked and saddened me as I recently graduated with the HNC in hospitality.
I decided during lock down to set up my own business having over 30 years in hospitality and tourism. I felt that it would affirm what I have learnt in those years and to give me the confidence to set up on my own (I run a whisky/ wine/ gin tastings company.... the Tobermory whisky den)
The course was great not just from a theory point of view but also practical with a lot of tools I have taken away to help with my business.
Being a Highlands and Islands uni where hospitality and tourism is very much at the forefront,I feel that taking away this course demeans the role of hospitality. There are enough employers who don't care about training their staff so taking away these courses puts out, in my opinion, a message that the service industry isn't that important, which is wrong.
If there are over 400000 hospitality jobs needing filled in the country, then establishments like UHI should be pushing these courses especially for the younger people.
I do hope they have a rethink about this especially after this season. Its been really tough. Not only am I running my own business but I am also helping a friend out with her coffee shop due to lack of staff. Mull on a whole is in a staffing crisis and we hear people complaining all the time about places being shut due to lack of staff.
From Michelle and Thomas Devlin, Isle of Mull
Have to say I am very disappointed to learn that Argyll College are considering not taking their art courses forward. The first one I completed was a zoom class that I stumbled upon during lockdown and it was fantastic…(although) your courses are not well advertised, and I only found the first one by chance!
I was lucky as I found two (courses). I quickly enrolled on both. One on zoom and the other in person. I was not disappointed as both were amazing. I learned so much, even got a certificate and now want more! But it looks as if that is not going to be possible. Why?
What a great loss this will be if the plug is pulled on these classes.
(My son) has a diagnosis of Asperger’s. His experience of school was not good….When he was in S4, at the age of 15, we made the decision that he should leave school. Attending a course at Argyll College was the ONLY option that appeared feasible. He was particularly keen on art, so we were very fortunate that Argyll College had arts classes based in Lochgilphead and were able to offer him a place on a full-time course, at a location which was accessible by public transport.
He started at Argyll College in August 2019 and was successfully awarded an HNC in Contemporary Art in August 2021. With the qualifications he has now got a place at Edinburgh College on an HND.
I cannot image what he would have done had Argyll College not been able to take him on as a student. His journey through Argyll College has given him the ability to continue education and have the qualifications to enable him to move on to the next stage, hopefully developing a career in the creative arts.
(former student’s parent)
The art courses have always been held in Lochgilphead and as much as I always wanted to attend them, it was never an option for me living in Oban, but when a friend told me about a new art class starting at Oban campus, I jumped at the chance (I personally didn’t see any advertising for this course….it didn’t pop up on my (Facebook) page, despite following Argyll College. I’d also like to point out that not everyone is on Facebook, or in some cases, not computer literate). I have been dabbling in art for a couple of years now, but I learnt so much more from going to the drawing classes at the college and I would like to continue learning in this field.
I am saddened to hear that the certificated art courses delivered by UHI VIA Argyll College are under threat as are the jobs of the staff who deliver them.
These courses provide an invaluable creative outlet for all – those that are academically minded and those that are not but have a creative bent. They are also valued by those that want to develop a skill/talent to the next level and can often be a gateway to a career or business in the creative industries.
The courses also provide a valuable resource throughout the winter months for people’s mental health – the benefits of engaging in creative activities have proven and positive impacts on stress and depression.
In the face of what is looking to be like a very difficult winter in terms of the economy please do what you can to ensure that these courses continue.
The loss of these course would be a devastating blow to the people of Argyll.