Claudia Beamish MSP has spoken out to say that poor transport links must not prevent access to training and education services in Dumfries & Galloway.
The South Scotland MSP raised the issue during Education Questions in the Scottish Parliament this week, seeking assurances that the Scottish Government would support rural people of all ages to access opportunities.
Scottish Government figures indicate that school leavers from remote rural areas are less likely to access further education and training compared with those in more accessible areas, whether rural or urban.
The MSP has welcomed a range of initiatives at Dumfries & Galloway College providing transport options for further education students on bursaries or EMA funding who find it difficult to access the campus using public transport. College contracted buses provide transport from more remote communities while support is also available to further education students to help fund use of public transport services.
Speaking following question time this week, Claudia Beamish said:
“Whether it is young school leavers, people with childcare or caring responsibilities or those who want to retrain to find work, colleges play a crucial role providing flexible learning opportunities.
“However, for many people in more remote areas, accessing these opportunities can be a real struggle. Public transport options are limited and, even where there are links, timetabling doesn’t always work.
“I’m delighted that Dumfries & Galloway College is addressing this problem with dedicated services to help those who struggle to get to the campus. This shows a real commitment to serve the wider community and ensure access to opportunities for everyone.
“Alongside support to physically attend college, I am eager to ensure open learning opportunities through online and distance learning and I recently raised this issue, leading a debate on skills partnerships and the importance of outreach courses.
“The college sector is working against a backdrop of falling budgets. It is important that the Scottish Government listens to concerns being raised across the country to ensure that colleges continue to offer flexible learning opportunities that are open to all.”