College principals urge ministers to extend funding for counselling services
This funding has allowed students to access vital counselling services at colleges and universities across Scotland. Currently, funding is being reviewed by the Scottish Government and is not yet confirmed past July 2023.
In response, 21 college principals have signed a joint letter to Scottish Government urging them to continue funding services and for further clarity on the situation.
Jon Vincent, principal of Glasgow Clyde College and mental health lead for the college sector, said:
“We have recruited counsellors to help save lives on campus, give very vulnerable students support, and be our experts in-house to deal with mental health issues.”
“As employers we don’t have the money to carry on the service from our own budgets and we need the scheme to receive ongoing funding separately as it has done for the past four years. We also need to give our employees some certainty about whether they are able to stay on.”
“Given the worrying number of unwell students counselling helps each year, it seems completely counter intuitive to stop the scheme. We are also keeping demand away from the NHS which is itself struggling to cope with asks for mental health appointments.”
“We have now asked the Scottish Government to be clear about whether they are going to continue funding the programme – we need to have some clarity on behalf of our students and staff.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said:
“Despite a very challenging fiscal environment, we have confirmed a further £2 million in this academic year to March 2023, and we are committed to additional funding to cover the entirety of the current Academic Year.”
“No decision has been taken with regard to funding beyond the end of the current academic year.”
“The Scottish Government will also deliver a Student Mental Health Plan in Spring 2023.
This will provide a framework for student mental health support in universities and colleges, which will be linked to our wider Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.”