Hundreds back petition urging Perth College to protect threatened services

The college is proposing cutting 70 jobs and reducing support services.

Hundreds of people have backed a petition urging Perth College to protect under-threat services, including its library and nursery.

The college’s bosses announced last month that it’s facing a £4 million funding deficit and is proposing cutting 70 jobs and reducing support services.

Perth College principal and chief executive, Dr Margaret Cook, said the college is not permitted to operate with a deficit budget, and they are having to make “challenging and difficult decisions on where savings and changes in all parts of the college can be made”.

“Along with the rest of the college sector, the current landscape presents formidable challenges.

“Alongside reductions in funding and the cost-of-living crisis, we have rising staff and utility costs, leaving us with significant economic concerns and the requirement to create a financially stable future.

Students have been raising their concerns about the library cuts on campus.STV News

“In order to prevent compulsory redundancies, we remain committed to achieving this by launching a voluntary severance scheme,” Dr Cook added.

Among the proposed cuts, the current library will be turned into “a more versatile study space”, which will contain only a “limited book collection” and be open for only one evening per week.

On Wednesday, students raised their concerns about the library cuts on campus.

“The consultation is purely budget cuts of staff, and there is no consideration at the moment as to how that affects students,” said Cara Steel, a student at the college.

“There’s no assessment being done on the impact of students, and there’s no communication between staff and students.

“The students are going to try and put a hold on the cuts until an assessment has been done as to how this will impact the students, and the students can have an opinion on how this will impact their academic learning journey.”

In addition, another cut would see the campus nursery closed in the summer of 2024, with the loss of all nursery roles.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said there is an overwhelming sense that senior management has failed to protect the interests of staff.

“The nursery should surely be the last facility to be considered for closure. And yet, for a second year running, senior management has inflicted misery on staff and students alike by suddenly putting it on the chopping block.

“This is despite a commitment from Margaret Cook last year to keep the nursery open until at least 2025. By acting in such a manner, there can be no doubt that the entire college community has lost confidence in her leadership.

“All efforts are now being directed towards uniting the people of Perth together around a campaign to save the nursery once more. We managed to save it last year, but this time, we will be fighting to get this unconscionable proposal taken off the table once and for all.”

The college said it is consulting with trade unions, staff, and students, and it has been assured by Perth & Kinross Council that they will work with all parents and carers to facilitate, where possible, a move to another suitable nursery.

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