College students to protest after fashion course axed 'due to cuts'

A protest will be held by Fife College students outside the doors of the Dunfermline campus on Thursday.

Fife College students to protest in Dunfermline after fashion course axed ‘due to cuts’ Getty Images

Students at Fife College are to protest in a bid to save a fashion and merchandising course which has been axed for the upcoming academic year.

On Tuesday, June 13, two weeks ahead of the summer holidays, students studying for an NC qualification in fashion and merchandising were told that the HNC and HND course would not go ahead next academic year due to cuts.

Students on the course, who had planned to carry on their studies in the subject, say that they have been left with “no time to explore alternative options” and do not feel like “adequate support” has been given to them.

A protest will be held by the students outside the doors of the Dunfermline campus on Thursday, June 21 at 12.30pm.

A statement from NC fashion and merchandising students at the college read: “We are extremely disappointed to learn that the fashion course at Fife College will no longer be offered. We were only informed of this decision in the final two weeks of the term, leaving us with no time to explore alternative options.

“We feel that the college has not provided us with adequate support during this difficult time.”

The group added that the college claimed that there was a lack of interest in the fashion course and that there were “no opportunities for fashion graduates in Fife.”

The statement added: “We have also learned that the college is making these changes due to government funding cuts. We understand that funding is a significant concern, but we do not believe that eliminating the fashion course is the right decision.”

The group is urging the college to seek out alternative solutions.

Earlier this year, a decision to give millions of pounds to colleges and universities was reversed by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government confirmed that £26m announced for colleges in the 2023-24 Budget will no longer be coming to the college sector.  

In May, Shona Struthers, CEO of Colleges Scotland, said: “Colleges are deeply disappointed and dismayed by this U-turn from the Scottish Government. Removing the equivalent of £1m from each college is completely inexplicable – colleges are already cash strapped, making cuts to courses and winding down parts of their offer due to a lack of funding, not a lack of ambition from colleges or demand from students or employers.

“Since December last year, numerous ministers and cabinet secretaries have repeatedly assured the college sector and Scottish Parliament that this funding was coming in 2023-24. Yet, less than five months on from the government’s budget announcement, this promised money has now been withdrawn.

“Ministers are relying on colleges to provide hundreds of thousands of students with training and education each year but with less and less funding – it simply can’t be done any more. Colleges are needed more than ever to mitigate poverty in communities across the country, provide life-changing opportunities for people, and create the future workforce which will tackle the climate emergency. Removing funding previously planned for colleges is the wrong approach in delivering any of these ambitions.”

In April, counselling students at the college also launched a petition after it emerged that counselling courses were to be axed.

It warned that cancelling the courses would affect students and lecturers – and the provision of mental health services within Fife.

Like the fashion students, counselling students said it would mean the end for the HND and HNC courses currently running.

A Fife College spokesperson said: “Fife College regularly reviews what courses it will offer in order to ensure that our future provision is in line with regional employment trends. This year, with a significant real-terms cut in central funding for all colleges across Scotland, we are being forced to make some hard decisions.

“Initial proposals on future course provision led to a thorough consultation process involving college leadership, staff, and Union representatives. The proposals focused on market demand, course completions data, positive destination figures, and future employability prospects for our students. The outcome has led to some courses not being offered next year, with the HNC in Fashion Design and Production being one of them.

“We regret the impact this may have on learners, and are doing everything we can to support them towards alternative course offers.”

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