A STUDENT fears he will not complete his course on time to attend university due to an ongoing strike involving lecturers at his college.

Grant MacKay,34, who is studying for his HNC in Working with Communities at Glasgow Kelvin College has raised concerns that he might not finish his course on time to take up his place at the University of the West of Scotland in September if no agreement is met. He said: “I’ve already put in a formal complaint to my college regarding the time left. By my calculations, there’s only seven weeks left after the strike today.

“We only have seven weeks left and that takes us over the time needed to teach the unit and to do the assessment.”

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Grant claims that the college are currently exploring the option of extending the term by an additional four weeks to cover the time lost to strikes which have been called by the EIS union who represent the lecturers over a dispute surrounding their job description. He added: “I’ve got an official stamped document for my council tax exemption which states this course ends on June 18. My funding ends on June 18 so I’ve asked the college: are they going to pay my student loan and my extra bursary for that month that potentially I have to stay on?

Glasgow Times: Pics: Robert PerryPics: Robert Perry

“I’ve raised concerns to the college that part of my offer to university is that I complete all of my modules and units.

“I would like a guarantee that regardless of what happens that we pass our course or HNC so that we can get to university.”

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The union claims they are being replaced with less qualified tutors who are not part of the nationally agreed pay scale and terms and conditions as set out by Colleges Scotland, the governing body for further education. EIS claim the move would have negative consequences for students and would create a two tier system of education as not all students would have the opportunity to be taught by a professionally trained lecturer.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow Kelvin College confirmed that they share students’ concerns about the impact of the dispute and that measures are being put in place to support them. She said: “Glasgow Kelvin College echoes the concerns of its students and is disappointed that the EIS/FELA industrial action remains unresolved despite a consensus being reached between the trade union and the national Employers Association on the key issues of this dispute.

“Colleges are working to do all they can so that students are not disadvantaged by the impact of the pandemic or by the current strike days and proposed industrial action. “

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“The College fully appreciates that all students have their individual challenges and we urge them to engage with their lecturing and support staff to access educational, financial and wellbeing support. Students are reminded that there is a wide range of support services available at Glasgow Kelvin College to help them at this very difficult time.”

Colleges Scotland maintain there is no national plan to replace lecturers with less qualified tutors and believes the strike action is “unnecessary.” The body stressed that college lecturers are valued and that tutors, assessors and instructors have worked alongside them for decades.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said: “We know students are worried however colleges are taking steps to ensure that disruption for individuals will be at an absolute minimum at this critical time in the academic year.

“The EIS-FELA has refused repeated requests to suspend the strikes while meaningful discussions carry on – national industrial action is wholly unnecessary.”

“The college sector is not unique in using a variety of different roles to deliver services. Different sectors and professions also have a range of support staff roles which are required such as teachers and classroom assistants, solicitors and para-legals, dentists and hygienists, nurses and nursing assistants.

The General Secretary of the EIS, Larry Flanagan warned that if the issue is not resolved, lecturers could lead to a results boycott where student work will be marked, but grades will not be shared with colleges.

Glasgow Times: EIS General Secretary Larry FlanaganEIS General Secretary Larry FlanaganHe said: “In the face of Colleges Scotland’s intransigence and its unwillingness to properly value the role of the lecturer, EIS-FELA have little option than to further escalate the dispute to include action short of strike action (ASOS), alongside the ongoing campaign of strike action. "The goodwill of the lecturing profession simply cannot be taken for granted by their employers.

“This escalation, following a successful ballot result, will lead to a results boycott – meaning that although all student assessments will be marked, the results will not be shared, entered or recorded with colleges as employers.”

“Following a year of disruption, and given that this scenario could have been avoided, it is wholly regrettable that students may be impacted in this way. This scenario is clearly one that EIS-FLEA hoped to avoid, as much for the students as for the lecturers themselves. We would call on the employers to ratify the deal and settle this dispute.”

Further days of action are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week and into next month if no resolution is met.