Editor's comment

12th February 2010 at 00:00

In the rollercoaster world of student teacher numbers, Scotland's teacher education institutions (TEIs) have been subject to too many highs and lows in the past decade. Not so long ago, they suffered from the academic equivalent of altitude sickness as workforce planning predictions dictated record recruitment levels; now, in a classic parallel with the country's "boom and bust" economy, they have had their student numbers felled in one swipe, with pound;12 million removed from their sector.

The Education Secretary's transitional funding package of pound;3m is, he will no doubt have told them, better than nothing. But will it be enough to help teacher trainers to sustain capacity for the next time there is an upwards swing? Many are doubtful. Job losses are inevitable in the coming months, while some institutions object to the strings attached that the transitional relief must support Curriculum for Excellence projects with local authorities. No concordat-style, hands-off deal there.

The Scottish Government is being urged to fund more university places and thus satisfy the record demand for a degree, prompted by a scarcity of jobs. Only the most optimistic expect Michael Russell to accede to such demands, despite the logic in the argument that this is the very time to invest in higher skills. So the TEIs are floundering in a university environment already besieged by funding problems. And just to compound their problems, the education faculties have the Donaldson review of teacher education to look forward to (if that is the most appropriate phrase).

As economic stringencies bite and mergers become the cost-cutting measure favoured by university managements, more and more education faculties are losing their standalone status. History may show that these last few years have marked TEIs' place in the sun as storm clouds gather.

Neil Munro editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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