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Date: Thu 29 November 2012

Post-16 Education Bill – UNISON comment

UNISON Scotland today warned of more job losses and college course cuts as a result of Scottish Government college merger plans.

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee, said following publication of the Post-16 Education Bill: “Where does the Minister plan to find the £50 million savings as a result of mergers? Is it from more job losses and cuts to key services for our students?

“We have already witnessed this year services for college students stretched to breaking point, with many concerned that they still won’t have student grants and loans in their banks before Christmas, after starting in August.

“This is affecting the chances of many of our students surviving financially. Perhaps Mr Russell is referring to savings to the education budget as a result of students withdrawing and ending up on benefits.

“Many other student support services in our colleges are also being affected by the cuts to college budgets – cuts the Scottish Government has now confirmed.

“Many services are either slower with opening times reduced or are not being delivered at all. These services are key to students choosing the correct course after appropriate guidance and then being able to survive the challenges of college life.

 “Is he going to guarantee that student services won’t be worse off after mergers ? The Minister needs to explain where the savings will be found.”

UNISON is concerned that shared services are once again being held up as the route to savings, despite the lack of evidence.

Shared services have at best a mixed history. Savings predictions rarely materialise and where they do, because of the high implementation costs, they take at least five years to break even. Where money has been saved, it’s usually through job cuts.

Chris Greenshields added:  “We are also very disappointed that, despite the Minister stating that he was keen to ensure that unions are fully involved, there is no place for union representation on the new regional boards. Staff representatives are of course welcome, but they perform a very different role from that of a union rep.”


For further information please contact:

Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877 000
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978 

Notes for editors

1. UNISON Scotland’s response to the consultation on college regionalisation is at

2. Information and briefings on shared services are on our website at

3. Our response to the consultation on the merger of Edinburgh Colleges is at