AS a councillor I have over the years heavily criticised the SNP for their cuts on college places but recent figures show that the number of enrolments by women in Scotland’s colleges has almost halved since the SNP came to power.
The number of courses that women have registered on has dropped from 274,618 in 2007/08 to 142,738 in 2015/16, down 48%.
Male enrolments in the same period fell from 214,992 to 138,160, down 36%.
The Scottish Funding Council figures also show the gender gap in engineering is growing, with the number of women enrolled in such courses dropping from 15% in 2008/09 to 7.9% last year.
Scottish Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman Caron Lindsay said “It’s shocking that the SNP have presided over such a dramatic fall in female enrolments.
“Cuts to college budgets have led to dramatic reductions in college places, particularly for those who would study part-time, which disproportionately affects female students.
“That’s why in our budget negotiations with the Scottish Government we argued that the SNP should reverse their college cuts and end the college funding squeeze.”
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “These figures lay bare the damage the SNP has done to our education system.
“Its swathing cuts to the college sector have seen enrolments plummet, and it’s clear that women are suffering the most.
“It is totally unacceptable that the number of courses women are enrolling for is now nearly half the level it was when the SNP came to power.
“Despite all the SNP’s rhetoric, there is now a growing gap between men and women taking courses in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects such as engineering.”
The party is calling on the Scottish Government to support community efforts to promote vocational education to help young people struggling at school.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Women account for the majority of college enrolments – 51% in 2015/16 – and the number of women on full-time courses is up by over 12% since 2006/07.
“The SFC has published a gender action plan which sets out actions they will undertake with the sector and partners to address existing imbalances and significantly reduce gender gaps in college and undergraduate courses.
“We are committed to helping all students realise their potential and remove barriers to pursuing the career that they want. Colleges are also taking steps themselves to open up more Stem subjects to all students, with City of Glasgow College’s engineering all-women course one example of how traditional job pathways are being challenged and opened up.”
From:: David May