Scottish college sector representatives have welcomed the "largest revenue increase in over 10 years" after an "above-inflation increase in resource funding" of 3.6 per cent was announced in the Scottish draft Budget today.
This, the Budget for 2020-21 said, would support Scotland's successful college sector.
Deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney said: “The further education sector receives an above-inflation resource spending increase of 3.6 per cent to train or upskill our workforce, while the higher education sector receives a real-terms funding uplift to maintain our position as a world leader in learning, science and innovation – particularly important in the context of the UK’s departure from the EU.”
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said her organisation welcomed the draft Budget announcement, which "represents a 5.52 per cent cash terms increase on last year’s revenue resource allocation".
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"It is extremely pleasing that the Scottish government clearly recognises the critically important role colleges have in delivering the skills and qualifications for almost 265,000 learners to develop their careers and the positive impact these institutions have across Scotland’s communities and how they help increase inclusive economic growth," she said.
The draft Budget states that the sector’s revenue resource budget will increase by £33.5 million to £640 million – a real-terms rise of around 3.6 per cent.
According to Colleges Scotland, the draft Budget also provided a number of other relevant announcements for the sector, including £11.2 million sector inflationary costs, £11 million for Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme costs arising from HM Treasury increasing employer contributions, £5.5 million for a sector Change Fund, and £1.7 million for free sanitary products in colleges.
“We know from Audit Scotland’s report, Scotland’s Colleges 2019, that the college sector faces considerable medium and long-term financial challenges, but this increase in revenue allocation is a step in the right direction and will help colleges continue to provide high-quality learning and teaching which gives people the professional, technical and vocational skills employers need now and in the future," said Ms Struthers.
On the announcement in the draft Budget that £35.7 million will be made available in capital investment for colleges, she said: “The college sector’s requirement for capital is well in excess of the amount allocated, so we recognise there are challenges for the college estate in the years ahead, but we will work closely with Scottish government and Scottish Funding Council to source additional capital funding for the sector in years to come and ensure all of the college sector’s learners are taught in the high-quality facilities they deserve.”