MSP quizzes finance secretary over education funding

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has asked the Scottish government to ensure Scotland’s universities and colleges have enough financial resources to weather coronavirus.

The shadow education minister said on Friday he was concerned “that 83 per cent of Scottish higher education institutions were running a deficit even before the pandemic”.

Responding to Mr Halcro Johnston’s question at Holyrood, finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “Although we know that both sectors that the member identifies have been hit hard by the crisis, the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our college and university sectors is still to be fully realised.

“We continue to work with the Scottish Funding Council, which analyses the institutions’ financial forecasts.”

Speaking following the exchange, Mr Halcro Johnston said: “Our colleges and universities will have a vital role to play as we work our way through the economic challenges posed by the pandemic, but they can only do that if they are on a secure financial footing.

“That’s why it was so disappointing that in her so-called Programme for Government, Nicola Sturgeon put greater emphasis on arguments about more constitutional upheaval than she did the education of our young people.

“The SNP Government’s 13 year record on education does not inspire confidence and it is so important that ministers provide reassurance to the sector.

“This is a crucial issue. Our young people will need the skills and qualifications provided by our colleges and universities like never before.

“By securing the future of our higher and further education system, we are also securing the future prospects of our young people and our country’s economy.


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