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NUS Scotland warns of ‘perfect storm’ facing college students

NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly

NUS Scotland (@NUSScotland) President Matt Crilly has today warned that college students in Scotland face a “perfect storm” as a result of government cuts, industrial action and the rising cost-of-living. 

In a letter to the Scottish Government, co-signed by student officers from colleges across Scotland, Matt Crilly calls for “investment to ensure that students, staff or our colleges do not bear the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis we face.”

Industrial action in the dispute between EIS-FELA and college employers has entered its fourth week, with other unions in the sector considering action on fair pay.

As a result of the Scottish Government’s budget for 2022-23, the college sector faces a total reduction in their budget for 2022/23 of £51.9million. This includes a real-terms cut of £23.9 million in their core budget and a loss of £28 million that was provided in 2021-22 to support them through the pandemic.

Even before the current cost-of-living crisis, an NUS Scotland survey of over 3,500 students in November 2021 found that over 60% of students worry about money, with a third considering dropping out for financial reasons.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly said: 

“There is no doubt that college students in Scotland face a perfect storm of cuts, strikes and cost-of-living rises that are having an impact on the learning and welfare of students. 

“Scottish Government cuts to college budgets are putting vital student services and effective local student representation at risk on several campuses. The Government has also failed to adequately support students through the cost-of-living crisis, and many students face yet another summer without financial support.

“College staff should also not bear the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis – the government must act to ensure fair pay and prevent further disruption for students. To do nothing is to risk causing significant impact on students on the final leg of their achievement. 

“We need to the government to prioritise student welfare, reverse their cuts to our education and ensure staff are supported.”

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