Created on: 26 May 2023 | Last modified: 29 May 2023
The national Executive Committee of the EIS-FELA has publicly called on the Scottish Government to address the crisis in Further Education through an emergency funding package.
An emergency resolution was passed at the meeting of the committee, in response to growing numbers of colleges threatening compulsory redundancies and looking to drastically cut back on staffing levels and course provision. Additionally, college lecturers remain in dispute over a lack of a fair pay award from college employers, which should have been settled in September 2022.
The EIS-FELA launched its Fighting for the Future of Further Education campaign in October 2022 and has six core demands that together form a vision for addressing the issues in Further Education. In the period since the campaign was launched, the issues in Further Education have risen to crisis point, not least with the sudden withdrawal of additional funding, by the Scottish Government, on 2nd May 2023.
Following the meeting, EIS General Secretary, Andrea Bradley, commented, “The Scottish Government can no longer stand idle while the college sector in Scotland plunges into a deepening crisis. Strike action begins at City of Glasgow college next week, in response to up to 100 compulsory redundancies and now growing numbers of institutions across the sector are also threatening similar courses of action.
"The Further Education sector is vital to addressing societal and educational inequality. The Scottish Government must act immediately before irrevocable damage is done."
Anne Marie Harley, EIS-FELA President, stated, "The EIS-FELA national executive has today sent a very clear message to the Scottish Government regarding the crisis in Further Education- that denial is no longer a viable option and that action is required now. The Scottish Government must intervene to avoid swingeing cuts to learning opportunities for students across the sector and job losses in a growing number of colleges.
"The communities that colleges serve deserve so much better from our elected leaders; they must now act to save the college sector from being cut so deeply that it is barely recognisable."
The emergency resolution agreed at today's meeting of the EIS-FELA national executive reads as follows:
That the EIS-FELA Executive Committee notes with concern the growing numbers of colleges, across Scotland, proposing drastic cuts to learning provision and job losses through voluntary severance and increasingly compulsory redundancies.
The EIS-FELA Executive Committee believes that these cuts will severely damage the communities that colleges serve, many of which are those that need quality education and training the most. All redundancies – be they voluntary or compulsory – reduce provision and involve the exit of experienced staff and less capacity to deliver education and training at a time that it is desperately needed.
It is further believed that compulsory redundancies, within the public sector, are simply unacceptable and would not be tolerated in any other part of the public sector. The Scottish Government has a long-held policy of no redundancies in the central government part of the public sector – the part that most FE colleges belong to.
As such, the EIS-FELA Executive Committee calls on the Scottish Government to express its opposition to compulsory redundancies and to immediately implement an emergency funding package for the Further Education sector, in order to maintain the education and training capacity of colleges by protecting staff and provision.
The Fighting for the Future of Further Education campaign demands are available here.