By LOUISE THOMASON
The director of Shetland College has voiced his disappointment at a decrease in funding announced for the next academic year by the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council.
George Smith, who was praised last year by inspectors for transforming the college’s performance, said he would be questioning why gross teaching resource funds were to drop from £1.764 million to £1.76 million – a decline of 0.8 per cent.
Mr Smith said: “I’m disappointed with the overall funding levels allocated to the Shetland College for 2009/10. We’re due to meet with the chief executive of the funding council next month, so I’ll be raising some questions about this with him.”
Scotland’s 43 colleges are to benefit from a total funding package of £572 million, with an additional £6.7 million granted to help colleges respond to an increased demand for student support, possibly as a result of the current economic downturn, bringing the investment in bursaries, childcare and discretionary funding to a record £79 million. This is a 9.3 per cent increase on the previous year. A total of £401 million will be provided for teaching provision through general funding in 2009-10, which is an increase of £6 million from 2008-09. Some £5 million of the funding will go towards supporting the national Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) programme, which works with Skills Development Scotland to provide services to individuals and businesses affected by the recession.
SFC chairman John McClelland commented: “I am pleased that the [SFC] is able to announce a substantial increase in student support funds, as part of its investment in colleges for 2009-10. This demonstrates our commitment to act decisively to support students who are affected by the recession.”
SFC chief executive Mark Batho said: “Scotland’s colleges are already responding strongly to the economic downturn and we recognise the work they are doing through initiatives such as PACE, where they are can respond very quickly to help people facing unemployment. “The Scottish Funding Council’s increased investment in PACE and support for students will put public money where it is needed most.”
Applications for the coming academic year at Shetland College are still being accepted, so as yet staff do not know how many students can be expected.
Shetland College was last year praised for a turnaround in its management and performance after a week-long review in August.
A report by the HM Inspectorate of Education concluded that new management and an overhaul of the council’s management committee had resulted in improvement of “cross-college” problems, including leadership, management and staff.
The main findings of the report were that the college has in place effective learning and teaching processes overall; learners are progressing well and achieving appropriate outcomes overall and that the college is managing well and improving the quality of its services for learners.
The director and deputy director in particular were praised for their efforts in improving the college, as were the SIC’s management board.