Worse by degrees

So Mike Russell has sanctioned an investment of £5.5 million to fund an additional 1,000 student places at the University of the Highlands and Islands (your report, 22 August).

This is despite documentary evidence of continuing high drop-out rates at new universities; increasing numbers of ­graduates from both new and old universities working in jobs that do not require a degree; and the plea from industry for job applicants with practical, vocational skills.

We once had a thriving further education sector in Scotland, which offered intermediate level training, over one or two years, designed to meet industry needs.

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The cost of this training, for both student and taxpayer, is significantly less than the ubiquitous and often useless degree.

In the past two years, Mr ­Russell has inflicted savage cuts on further education, resulting in huge redundancies among college staff, leading to a subsequent decrease in provision and a continuing failure to meet industry needs.

At the other end of the scale, the government has yet to meet its pledge to reduce primary school class sizes. Large numbers of newly trained teachers are without jobs as static budgets force schools to cut recruitment.

Trish O’Brien

Cameron March

Edinburgh