Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

Can Scotland thrive without a thriving college sector? 

Event Date:

Scotland’s 24 colleges are facing tough financial challenges, alongside a national discussion on reform of the skills sector. The recent draft Budget for 2024/25 delivers more potential cuts to a critical part of the education and skills sector which gives opportunities to 240,000 students each year, creating the vital workforce needed for Scotland, including in health and social care, hospitality, construction and early learning.  James Withers has recently set out recommendations for change, prompting a broader discussion on reform of the skills sector overall.

Recent research by the Fraser of Allander Institute has found that Scotland’s economy will be £52 billion better off cumulatively over the 40-year working life of college graduates – but can this significant boost to the economy continue with falling investment?

Students have a great experience at college, surrounded with holistic support as they gain qualifications, confidence and experience – recent data from the Scottish Funding Council shows that nine out of 10 college students were satisfied with their college experience in 2022-23,  demonstrating that colleges continue to expertly support learners to fulfil their potential.

How can Scotland’s colleges thrive now and in the future? What can government do to better support the sector? And why does Scotland still seem to undervalue such a significant part both of our education system and economy?

These and other questions were considered by our panel:

  • Joanna Campbell, Principal & Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway College, and Chair of the College Principals’ Group
  • Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute
  • Andy Witty, Director of Strategic Policy, Colleges Scotland

The discussion was chaired by Chris Deerin, Director of Reform Scotland.

This event was held via Zoom on Wednesday 28 February, watch it back below: