Created on: 25 Aug 2022 | Last modified: 23 Feb 2023
Members of the Argyll College EIS-FELA branch are being told by the management of the college that their courses are ‘no longer financially viable’ due to a fall in student numbers over the past three years making these courses unsustainable.
However, the lecturers in the Art and Hospitality departments say their courses have not been effectively marketed for a number of years and that COVID had an impact on the numbers of students that could safely be in practical classes.
The EIS-FELA branch is of the view that the College has not genuinely sought to avoid compulsory redundancies which would see the end to all certificated Art courses, including up to HND level, as well as Cookery courses. Despite there being a consultation period until 7th September, the decision has already been made by senior management that the courses under threat will not run.
The EIS-FELA branch are calling on the College to reverse their decision and to utilise their reserves, which have nearly tripled from just under £1million to nearly £3million between 2020-2021. The branch wants to see some of this money used to promote an effective marketing strategy which would highlight the need for these courses in Argyll’s rural economy and for education to be guaranteed to the local community over and above any desire to profit from it. The branch say these courses are integral to the rural economy in Argyll and Bute, but there has been no market research or consultation on structuring the courses carried out.
Kyla Steele, EIS-FELA branch secretary at Argyll College, said “During COVID we have seen the end of Hairdressing and some Construction being taught at Argyll College. We know that Agriculture courses are not being marketed effectively. Colleagues have had their hours decreased. Now we have the College stating that Art and Hospitality should end too. If ‘learning means more’ as Argyll College’s motto states, then prospective students need to be encouraged to apply and there must be progression routes available – not just in subjects which the College can commodify, but in subjects which promote health, wellbeing and access to further education. This decision is short sighted and does not take account of either existing demand or likely future demand.
“This College is essentially a private college. With nearly £3million in reserves, what are they sitting on that money for? The College receives the majority of its funding from the public purse therefore they should not be banking this level of surplus. They should be benchmarking against the Scottish Government’s Public Sector Pay Policy, as the Scottish Funding Council suggests, and should commit to no compulsory redundancies. An offer of statutory redundancy is really no offer, particularly with such sharp cost of living rises. The staff are paying the price for the College under-utilising connections with the local community and failing to tap into promotional events. The only reason we can see for this is that these courses don’t actively make the college money.”