AFTER years of damaging change in the college sector, the hope in recent months was that a deal had finally been reached on lecturers’ pay. But it would seem the hope was premature.

The basics of the deal are good: lecturers will receive an average rise of nine per cent, with some receiving much more because of historic pay anomalies. Lecturers will also receive some extra holidays. It will mean salaries of up to £40,000 and 62 days of holiday a year.

However, the talks now appear to have broken down over a £1,000 annual rise which the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) says is needed to cover the rise in living costs, but the real problem is that colleges are struggling to implement the Scottish Government’s policy to harmonise lecturers’ pay across the sector.

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The policy of harmonisation itself is sound, but what is a policy without proper funding? In the years since the SNP came to power, college funding has been dramatically reduced; the merger process has also led to job cuts, financial support for students has been cut, and the numbers going to college has declined.

To top it all, the latest dispute over pay represents yet another tightening of the screw. Pay rises for college lecturers are well deserved and long overdue, but the SNP should not expect colleges to pay for the promises that it has made.