Liberal Democrats supporting colleges

On the day the Scottish Parliament debated Stage 1 of its budget, Liberal Democrat Finance spokesperson Jeremy Purvis MSP emphasised that Liberal Democrats are focusing on the need to support Scotland’s colleges.

Commenting, Mr Purvis said, “We have met twice with the Scottish Government and are engaging constructively with practical measures to support the economy and to tackle the pressures on skills and colleges.

“As it stands, the SNP budget cuts are too severe for colleges, threatening places and bursaries.

“The Scottish Government should be focused on boosting economic recovery by investing in further education.

“That’s why as part of our budget negotiations, Liberal Democrats have pressed the Scottish Government to provide additional places for young people desperate to gain skills for work. We have also pressed the case strongly to restore funding for college bursaries that help secure opportunities and support for some of the poorest learners in Scotland.

“I am pleased that this joint approach from Liberal Democrats and the NUS is gaining considerable backing and I hope very much that the Scottish Government will respond positively to what is a very clear case.” 

Commenting, Liam Burns, President of NUS Scotland said, “I thank the Scottish Liberal Democrats for making this a negotiating issue in the forthcoming budget vote. They have recognised that this is a cut to an already wholly inadequate fund that has failed some of the poorest students for nearly three years now.

“With only weeks before the vote on the budget, thousands of students, staff, friends and family have been emailing their MSPs through I’m sure the Parliament will recognise that it makes no sense to price those out of further education who have the most to gain.”

I spoke on Wave 102 news about Liberal Democrat support for colleges, student places and bursaries today and you can hear this by clicking play below:

Class Sizes

I was pleased to see that, during the past week, in a debate in the Scottish Parliament on cuts to the education budget, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Jeremy Purvis MSP demanded urgent clarification from the Scottish Government about how much extra money is necessary for the SNP to achieve its class size targets.

This is an issue I have raised locally here in Dundee on a number of occasions, as there is concern locally at the lack of funding from the SNP government for their own policy.

Jeremy said, “The SNP provided no additional resources to deliver what, before the election, it described as the flagship education policy. Teachers, parents and pupils deserve a statement from the Scottish Government to clear up the confusion surrounding the cost of cutting class sizes and exactly how the SNP will pay for it.

“Last week, the EIS voted unanimously to support a strategy to oppose funding cuts, which included ballots for industrial action. Meanwhile, teachers have been raising significant concerns about the future of education and a Liberal Democrat investigation found that councils across the country are struggling to implement strategies to achieve the SNP’s class size target.

“The SNP is all over the place on its class size targets. SNP Ministers are sounding more and more desperate as they try to defend the indefensible.”

I’m pleased that the Liberal Democrats in the parliament condemned the Scottish Government’s complacency over the impact of its cut to the education budget. LibDem MSPs warned during the budget process that this was the worst settlement for education in Scotland since 1999.

The SNP must stop passing the buck to local authorities and start to take some responsibility for its own commitments. It must ensure that sufficient funding is in place not only to meet their own policy pledges but also to prevent job losses in our schools.

You can read Jeremy Purvis’s speech by clicking on the headline above.