Concern over £360million repair bill facing Scotland’s colleges

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Colleges in Scotland are facing a £360million repair bill but may be left short with just £39million allocated for the work this year.

Scottish ministers were last night challenged to produce a “clear plan” to make the country’s education centres wind and watertight.

The call from Labour was made after the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) said that while almost £900million had been invested in the college estate in the last decade, there is still a maintenance backlog.

It said that to do the minimum work to bring college buildings “up to an acceptable (wind and water-tight) condition” over a five-year period would cost around £360million.

Further Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville insisted colleges have “fantastic facilities” but said the report also showed there were some where “upgrading and modernising is required.”

But Labour said there was just £39.4million allocated for college maintenance in 2018-19 and claimed this showed how further education “gets a rotten deal” from the Scottish Government.

Education spokesman Iain Gray hit out, saying: “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.

“Students deserve to learn in safe, secure and comfortable facilities.

“The SNP must quickly explain how they are going to give colleges the vital funds they need for these urgent repairs.”

North and north-east facilities have been among those to receive significant investment in recent years, including £45million on the new Inverness College UHI campus, £23.4million on the Fraserburgh campus of North East Scotland College and £15.3million on its Altens campus in Aberdeen, as well as £3million on an engineering skills centre at North Highland College UHI in Thurso.

Capital spending totalling £76.7 million has been allocated to colleges for 2018-19, the Scottish Government said,which represents a £29.3 million increase on the previous year.

Ms Somerville 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.”



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