GLASGOW Labour has blamed SNP cuts to further education for a potential merger between Langside, Cardonald and Anniesland colleges.
The Extra reported last week that merger discussions were underway between the southside campus and the other city colleges.
The news follows just months after the official opening of the new £36.2 million campus, unveiled by first minister Alex Salmond on February 24.
Last week, principal Graeme Hyslop OBE told the paper that a collaboration was “essential given impending reductions in core funding”.
Now, Labour councillor Archie Graham has said that cuts to college budgets “will have a devastating effect”.
He commented: “It is outrageous that the SNP government in Edinburgh is slashing college budgets at the very time we need them most.
“For many people, colleges are the only effective route into a job so to strip away that opportunity will have a devastating effect.
“However, I am sure that college representatives will do everything they can to ensure the ethos and identity of the college remains”.
Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Coleshill also opposes the merge, commenting that it could mean cutting back on courses and forcing Langside students to go elsewhere.
He told The Extra: “Langside college sits as a vibrant part of the community and meets local needs.
“I questioned the first minister on this when he opened the college, and I was told that my cynicism was unattractive”.
Despite the criticism, Langside’s SNP councillor James Dornan responded that college staff have reacted positively to the merge.
Councillor Dornan — also MSP for Cathcart — said: “College funding is hugely important and it is now higher than it was when the SNP came in to government.
“Our commitment to students has been demonstrated by the guarantee that there will be no tuition fees for Scottish students in Scotland, our opportunities for all programme, and the additional funding announced in the recent budget for colleges.
“I’m glad that the staff at Langside are a bit more positive about this move than the perpetually negative Labour party, who have not put forward one idea about the future of Scotland’s college sector, and continue to scaremonger from the side lines.
“We need to have a mature debate about the future of this important sector, and I would hope that the opposition will see that this is too important for petty politicking”.
Principal Hyslop, Langside college’s board of management, staff and students all welcomed the idea of a merger last week, although staff representative Susan Spence commented: “Local education for local students is something that needs to be protected. We hope this is not lost within any future merger process”.
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