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Future of music courses sounds a bit ominous

Music and sound production staff and students at North Glasgow College took to the streets this week in protest over threats to the future of their department.

The courses at the Glasgow college, whose famous graduates include James Allan of Glasvegas, are likely to figure among a number facing reductions and potential closure as a result of government cuts of almost 10 per cent to college budgets this year.

North Glasgow principal Ronnie Knox said that while he was "on the side of students", a second consecutive year of cuts had made a further 16 FTE (full-time equivalent) voluntary redundancies inevitable. This was in addition to 31 staff who left the college last year. As TESS went to press, no final decisions had been made on which subject areas would be affected.

But staff and students in the music and sound department claimed that they were being targeted disproportionately. Claire Haswell, executive officer of North Glasgow College Students' Association, said: "We are looking for answers from the principal on why, at a time of economic uncertainty and when companies are shedding staff and the public sector is contracting, those who create are being punished."

One lecturer said the department had been told the two posts the college had not yet been able to shed through voluntary redundancy had to come from its section, and that its first-year intake would be halted. "This, in short, leaves us crippled."

The department had already confirmed places for 80 students for next autumn, and these young people might now have nowhere to go. The proposed cut to staff numbers would leave only three tutors to run the second-year provision, which meant a loss of specialist teaching in parts of the course. With no first-year intake in August, the lecturer feared the department would be forced to close next year.

Mr Knox said the college was in discussions with other institutions to try to make sure that students due to start courses at NGC, or whose courses might be discontinued, would be able to complete their qualifications elsewhere.

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk.

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