Tories join students in anti-cuts campaign

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Students fighting to reverse college budget cuts have won the support of Conservative MSPs.

The party signed up to the National Union of Students (NUS) campaign, Fund Scotland’s Future, to protect resources from £34.6 million reductions in the Scottish Government’s budget.

Liz Smith, Conservative education spokeswoman, said: “We cannot support a policy which is ripping out the heart of the institution which has done so much in recent years to make further education more accessible, more flexible, and aspire to higher standards.

“That is why we are calling for a major rethink by the Scottish Government about its priorities in the education budget.”

The NUS wants commitments from other parties to make college funding a priority in upcoming budget negotiations.

The last campaign led to £40m being put back into the budget, the NUS said.

Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said: “The Scottish Conservatives have done the right thing by backing the campaign to reverse deep cuts to college budgets, and we welcome their support.

“This commitment is a testament to students across Scotland who are working hard to get their MSPs to sign up to the Fund Scotland’s Future campaign to protect colleges.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Despite the UK government cutting Scotland’s budget by over £3 billion in real terms, the Scottish Government has delivered on NUS Scotland’s request to protect the student support budget.

“We are maintaining college numbers with a record number of Scots now in higher education and have protected over 26,000 college students from tuition fees.

“This government is reforming the college sector. This will improve job opportunities and generate annual savings of more than £50m while maintaining the number of places.”