A “decade of cuts” has cost colleges around £1 billion worth of funding, according to Scottish Labour.
The party has accused the Scottish Government of failing to protect budgets for colleges in Scotland since 2007 and claim that not doing so has left institutions short of cash.
Analysis by Labour, based on figures provided by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe), indicate that college budgets were £739.6 million in real terms when the SNP came to power in 2007.
They say had the SNP government protected that budget, colleges would have seen an additional £1 billion of investment over the past decade.
Labour’s education spokesman, Iain Gray, said the loss in funding had led to fewer students and a lack of resources available.
“So much for education being the SNP’s top priority, years of austerity has cost our colleges over £1 billion,” said Mr Gray.
“This will have cut off opportunities for thousands of young people and people seeking to learn new skills later in life.
The long term impact this has had, and will have, on our economy is simply disgraceful. Colleges should be ladders of opportunity for people, engaging with schools, universities and employers to deliver opportunity for all, they should be playing a key role in any government’s long term economic strategy.
“Instead, they have become the whipping boy of successive education budgets.”
The Further Education minister Richard Lochhead rejected Labour’s claims and said the SNP Government had invested over £810million in real terms towards new education facilities as well as funding 116,000 full-time college places every year since 2011. He said: “We continue to support our colleges by investing over £600million in colleges each year.”