Scots colleges face £360m repair bill to lift campus standards

Edinburgh College. Picture: Toby Williams
Edinburgh College. Picture: Toby Williams
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Scotland’s colleges need more than £360 million in repairs over the next five years to bring campuses up to scratch, it has been revealed.

The figure has been disclosed in the data released by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) condition survey and has led to Labour questioning whether Scottish ministers are spending enough on further education upkeep.

Labour suggested there was a shortfall in the amount of cash allocated to maintain Scotland’s colleges.

Labour pointed to other figures published by the SFC’s College Capital Funding Allocation, which identifies £12.5m for “College Lifecycle Maintenance” and £26.9m for “Very High Priority Backlog Maintenance”, bringing the total budget for maintenance to £39.4m.

Further analysis showed in the past five years only £131.4m had been spent on college maintenance, just over a third of what is needed in the next five years.

Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “Colleges and further education continue to get a rotten deal from the SNP government in Edinburgh. Any government ­serious about further education would be ensuring that there is a clear plan to make the campuses wind and watertight. Instead the SNP only plans to spend a fraction of what is needed.

“Refusing to pay this repair bill is just the latest sorry failure from the government on further education – a failure which sees 140,000 fewer college places since they came to power.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville, minister for further education, higher education and science, said: ““We asked for this survey to be conducted to ensure there was a robust and consistent assessment of the condition of buildings right across the college estate to help identify priorities for future investment.

“The findings show that Scotland’s colleges have many fantastic facilities that are modern and accessible, creating the right environment for people to learn and work in.

“As expected, the survey has also identified facilities where upgrading and modernising is required. It is my expectation that the Scottish Funding Council and the ­college sector use this report to effectively prioritise the finite capital investment available and ensure resources are targeted to where they are needed most.”

She added: “The colleges sector received an increase of £29.3m in their capital budget for 2018-19 from the Scottish Government.”