Staff morale at rock bottom in Scotland’s colleges, says UNISON

Date: Friday 25 September 2015

A UNISON report from a survey of staff in Scottish colleges, shows real problems caused by funding cuts, the college mergers programme and unaccountable college senior managers – and real concern amongst staff that education services for students are declining.  The report Learning the Hard Way is published today (25 September 2015)

Its findings include: over 6 in 10 staff (64%) think college services have declined; 7 in 10 (69%) blame the Scottish Government’s merger policy; the vast majority of staff (77%) are extremely doubtful that services will improve within the next year;  most staff (72%) are dissatisfied with opportunities for their own advancement; 9 in 10 (90%) staff believe Scottish colleges are underfunded.

UNISON are warning that the sector is in real trouble and highlight the key role it plays in the Scottish economy and social justice – providing skills development, wider access to education and improved opportunities for students from lower income backgrounds.

Chris Greenshields, chair of the UNISON FE Committee said, “This survey is damning. It’s no surprise that its one bad story after another in F.E. and our sector urgently needs a shot in the arm with additional ring fenced funding for staff to reverse the decline. Trust in management is at an all-time low. Ordinary staff are appalled at the large pay-offs that unaccountable senior managers have been paying themselves while UNISON members are working harder and longer hours to try to maintain the quality of services they offered before the mergers and redundancies across the whole sector.

Chris continued, ‘College management and the Scottish Government need to listen to the staff. We are here to work with the Scottish Government to make that vital difference. But it is getting increasingly difficult.  Its time warm words are translated into better pay and conditions for staff who are delivering despite real problems. If we don’t do something soon we can expect real industrial relation problems in the sector.’

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s FE committee, 07722329223
John Gallagher, UNISON regional manager, 07904 342426
Danny Phillips, UNISON communications officer, 07944 664 110

College staff responded to survey from: Ayrshire College, Borders College, City of Glasgow College, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Forth Valley College, Clyde College, Kelvin College, New College Lanarkshire, North East Scotland College, South Lanarkshire College,  West College Scotland, West Lothian College, Highlands and Islands University

Full report can be read here:
Key findings include:

  • 90% say sector underfunded.
  • 64% of staff think service has declined over last two year against 15% saying improved. 69%  blame the merger process
  •  77% doubtful or extremely doubtful that services will improve within 1 year
  •  72% of respondents say dissatisfied or very dissatisfied in opportunities for advancement.
  •  85% of members agree that in-house services are more effecient
  •  staff morale at rock bottom with 79% of respondents are negative about the future of services.
  •  63% said lack of transparency on mergers and 70% say trust levels in management low.
  •  75% say the job evaluation processes is secretive process.