College students visit Holyrood

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College students from across Scotland have visited Holyrood to discuss future opportunities after higher education and the transition from school to college.

Around 100 young adults aged between 16 and 19-years-old visited the Scottish Parliament where they met with the Education and Skills Committee.

The event was led by the committee’s convener James Dornan MSP and the Presiding Officer Ken McIntosh.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin, a member of the committee and former college lecturer, welcomed students from across Scotland and held a number of focus groups.

She said: “The committee wanted to hear the important voices of those aged between 16 and 19-years-old who have chosen college as their post school destination.

“It is so important as they look to their next steps after college they are given guidance and know what opportunities are available to them both now and in the future. But it’s essential that the committee hears about the transition from school to further and higher education so we can address any issues.

“As a former lecturer I know how important it is that we engage college students.

“It was great to hear from a whole host of students who are both dynamic and engaged. It was also important to us that the lecturers and students spent a day in their parliament, getting a feeling for how accessible the parliament is. I’ve a feeling they will be taking us up on our offer of contacting the committee to let us know more about the issues that affect them. It’s important they have that connection with us.”

Ms Martin also held a focus group with lecturers from colleges across Scotland.

She added: “Even with my fairly recent first-hand knowledge of the sector I was quite struck by the focus group’s priorities. I expected we’d be discussing issues around lecturer employment and working conditions. But I was wrong.

“The main topic of conversation was the challenges that young people face, and the increasing levels of support many students require, whether it be financially, socially or in terms of pastoral care. The challenge in providing adequate support for students with additional support needs or mental health issues was something that came up throughout the day, and the committee will be investigating that further as a result of hearing those views.”