Analysis: It is time to recognise the huge importance of colleges to Scotland and the nation's future
If asked, the vast majority of Scots would no doubt say they support reducing inequality in society.
It is, of course, not a straightforward task, with many factors at play.
But, more often than not, those who do escape deprivation in this country do so via colleges.
As well as widening access and cutting the attainment gap across a range of measures, these institutions are also vital to local regions, as “anchors” which boost employment and productivity, providing employers with the skilled workers they need to thrive.
It is unclear, therefore, why they are not held in higher esteem among decision-makers, who have overseen years of underfunding, not to mention the public more generally.
In terms of politicians, one explanation may be, of course, that few of them attended a college.
The decisions those in power then take when distributing diminishing budgets can then have an impact on wider perceptions.
Not only that, it partly funded the teachers pay deal by using £26million ministers had previously promised to colleges.
This sends a message that colleges are less important, as does the fact that funding per college student in Scotland is £5,054, compared to £7,558 for those at universities and £7,657 for secondary school pupils.
Perhaps colleges also could have been better in the past at selling themselves as the economic and societal lynchpins they are.
The report published today by the Fraser of Allander Institute starts to address that, setting out clearly the "fundamental" role they play, and how "crucial" they are to achieving Government objectives.
It should be compulsory reading for those in power if they are really ready to stop undermining what they say want to achieve with their own actions.
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