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What happened to Scotland’s college cash?

This article is over 7 years, 3 months old
Issue 2444
Striking FE lecturers in Edinburgh last year
Striking FE lecturers in Edinburgh last year

Questions are being raised about cash hoarded by Scottish college bosses during a time of unprecedented cuts to further education (FE) funding.

These include pay freezes at colleges, a drop in lecturer numbers, course cuts and a reduction in student numbers.

In late 2013 evidence provided to the Scottish parliament’s Public Audit Committee showed cash reserves at colleges totalled £214 million.

But Socialist Worker understands that £99 million of that money has effectively been transferred away from public scrutiny, according to information received by Scottish teachers’ union EIS.

This raises questions about the other £115 million.

FE colleges in Scotland are state funded, but get over £200 million a year from private sources including overseas students and commercial activity. Until last April, they were not considered part of the public sector and could spend it however bosses chose.

Now they are bound by public sector rules—which say they cannot hold onto the cash once the financial year ends next month.

A project board including the Scottish government and college bosses was set up to get around this with new “arms length foundations”. The £99 million transfered into them is worth about 20 percent of the Scottish government’s annual spending on FE colleges.

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