Fifteen jobs to go at Borders College following budget cuts

Scottish Borders College Principal Liz McIntyre at today's announcment that they are having to cut some jobs at the college.
Scottish Borders College Principal Liz McIntyre at today's announcment that they are having to cut some jobs at the college.

FIFTEEN jobs are to go at Borders College after it was hit with a 10% per cent cut in its budget for next year.

News of the £785,000 cash reduction from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) broke last week.

On Tuesday college principal Liz McIntyre said the number of courses and student places would be maintained and the savings would come through voluntary and compulsory redundancies in lecturing, support and admin staff across the college.

“There is an impact in terms of job losses and that’s what we are very concerned about,” said Mrs McIntyre.

“We will be meeting with all staff next week to announce those areas likely to be affected.”

The Galashiels-based educator is also looking at consolidating the number of groups that are offered in particular subjects and making better use of technology and facilities to save money.

Mrs McIntyre added: “Some of the changes will be to do with the way demand has changed, for example in the construction industry.”

The college, which also has bases at Hawick, Duns, Newtown St Boswells, Jedburgh and Peebles, will receive £1.679 million for student support and £6.804 million for teaching and fee waivering in 2011/12 from the SFC. The SFC cash constitutes just over two thirds of the educator’s income.

Mrs McIntyre said that the college, which has over 1,000 full time and about 4,000 part time students, has been planning how to manage the 10.3 per cent cut since it heard about the likely reduction in December.

The 350 full and part time staff were consulted over how the college should make the cuts and the consultation continues she said.

“Every area has had to look at its efficiency. It was really important to us and to our staff that we maintain our strategic integrity and continue to meet the needs of our local community and minimise the job losses as far as we can.

“We have worked really hard to maintain the breadth of our curriculum. It’s really important to us that we maintained our range of courses. We are absolutely committed to retaining the number of full time student places. We will also continue to work in partnership with local schools.

“We are here, we are open for business, this is the month to apply, “ said Mrs McIntyre.

The college, which has an annual turnover of £14 million, has been offering voluntary redundancy to staff since August. Less than five people have taken it up so far and other cases are on-going said Mrs McIntyre.

The latest redundancies will take effect in the next few months.

Heriot-Watt University, which shares the Galashiels campus with Borders College, is facing even tougher budget cuts.

It faces a 10.9 per cent cut in its annual teaching fund - £21.764 million, plus a 28.9 per cent reduction in its grant to encourage part time classes and enrolment, which for the coming year will be £212,000.

Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont is concerned about the future of further education in the Borders, and said that the Scottish Conservatives have been pushing the SNP Government for four years to secure the financial future of further and higher education.

“It is imperative, not only for the future of aspiring students, but also for the economic and cultural future of our country, that additional funds are secured for both the further and higher education sectors,” added Mr Lamont.