Anger over colleges’ student numbers

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Local Labour politicians have blamed the Scottish government’s budget cutting for the decrease in the numbers of students going to college in Dumfries and Galloway.

According to the Scottish Funding Council, figures show that in 2011/12 the number of students going to Dumfries and Galloway colleges is 3438 fewer than in 2007/08, while Barony College has seen a reduction of 1357 students.

Elaine Murray MSP said: “These figures are a damning indictment of the Scottish government’s time in office. It has made cuts of over £50m to college budgets, placing our colleges under huge pressure and leaving many in the sector concerned about this shift away from lifelong learning.

“Local people should not forget that the local SNP MSPs voted to slash college budgets, and many people in our region area will quite rightly be asking what they are doing to represent them. They’ve rubber-stamped these cuts and as usual put independence and party interest ahead of people in Dumfries and Galloway.”

MP Russell Brown added: “The key to rebuilding our local economy is attracting skilled-based, well-paid jobs to the region, and colleges should be playing a key role in the training and retraining of our workforce.

“With youth unemployment being a particular problem in this region, we should be encouraging young people to go to college, not limiting the places available. Yet the Scottish government doesn’t seem to get this. Despite all its bluster and rhetoric, slashing college budgets can only have one possible effect and that is seen here with thousands fewer people coming through their doors.”