COLLEGES in Scotland are to receive pound;1.7 million to run English language classes for asylum-seekers and others new to Scotland.
The package was announced by Jackie Baillie, Social Justice Minister, who promised funding would be continued in future years.
A parliamentary answer stated: "The measures will include the waiving of the residence and settlement criteria which until now have governed the ability of a college to claim funding and to reclaim the cost of waived fees; the provision of funding to allow colleges to provide books and support with travel; and a new discretion relating to asylum seekers which will allow colleges to approve continued studies beyond the level of basic courses."
Stevenson College in Edinburgh runs courses in English as a second language (ESOL) for 800 students in more than 20 centres throughout the Lothian area. The college says this was at risk due to the ineligibility for funding of many of the adults involved.
Ray Harris, Stevenson's principal, says the college had been in discussion with the Executive and he welcomed the recognition by ministers of "the importance of English language skill in an individual's ability to integrate into the local community".
The college, which is struggling to emerge from financial difficulties, is particularly relieved that the additional money means it does not have to raid other budgets to keep its ESOL programmes going.