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MSP fears cuts could put Orkney students ‘at risk’

Highlands and Islands MSP, Jamie Halcro Johnston.

A Highlands and Islands MSP has expressed fears that would-be students from Orkney and Shetland could be at risk financially.

Jamie Halcro Johnston is concerned at the growing monetary problems facing Scotland’s universities.

Mr Halcro Johnston made his comments after a study by the Auditor General for Scotland revealed Scotland’s universities had seen funding cut in recent years, with both of Aberdeen’s universities, as well as the University of the Highlands and Islands, struggling with financial deficits.

The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “This report lays bare how hollow Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge that education would be her government’s first priority really is.

“And it is frankly alarming that our local universities, which are often the first choices of students from Orkney and Shetland, are under such financial pressure.

“Scottish students are finding it harder and harder to access places at university, and this report indicates that the situation may not improve any time soon.”

“It is quite telling that, as with so many public services, the our area seems to be at a disadvantage compared with the Central Belt.

“For instance UHI and RGU account for two of three ‘most notable’ reductions in financial performance despite the fact that the strength of these two institutions is so important for the prospects of the regional economy as well as the prospects for local people wishing to access higher and further education.

“It would be a very good thing if Nicola Sturgeon spent less time gallivanting around the world agitating for an unwanted second independence referendum and more time in the north of Scotland sorting out our deteriorating public services.”

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