Further education pressure group formed

Thirteen of Scotland's 46 further education colleges have formed a pressure group in a bid to secure more funding for further education in the country's rural communities.

The Scottish Rural Colleges group warns that dramatic cuts are now imminent as a result of a funding formula which fails to address their special needs.

It aims to lobby local and national politicians about the importance of its work in widening access.

Jim Neil, principal of Dumfries and Galloway College and convener of the new group, said: "We want to get across to ministers that the disadvantaged of rural areas are as important as the disadvantaged of urban areas."

Mr Neil said prospective students from these areas were already disadvantaged by being obliged to travel long distances for higher education.

Bob Murray, principal of Borders College and secretary of the group, said no recognition was given to the important community role that colleges play in Scotland's remoter areas, acting as a focal point for local people and employers.

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