REPAIRS worth more than £360 million are needed just to make Scotland's college buildings wind and water-tight, it has emerged.

The sector has seen its financial health deteriorate in recent years and is already facing an £80m bill to harmonise pay.

Now a survey of the estate commissioned for the Scottish Funding Council has pinpointed a range of maintenance work needed to bring campuses to an acceptable condition over the next five years.

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It has also warned that if action if not taken quickly, some of the issues could deteriorate, leading to more costly repairs in the long term.

Colleges Scotland, which speaks on behalf of the sector, said it would discuss with the SFC, which is responsible for allocating public funds to colleges and universities, and the Scottish Government over how to pay for the backlog.

John Kemp, interim chief executive of the SFC, said: "Over the past decade nearly £900 million has been invested to provide new and inspiring college buildings that are amongst the best in the UK.

"Anyone visiting a college in, for example, Glasgow, Stirling, Inverness and Kilmarnock will see bright, modern buildings designed for 21st century teaching and training methods. However, the college estate is extensive and some parts of it do require attention.

"The report we are publishing today provides part of the evidence that we and the college sector need to make the right investment decisions and to put public money where it is most needed."

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It comes six months after a report by Audit Scotland warned that the colleges sector had deficits of £19 million in 2015/16.

The report by property consultants Gardiner and Theobald, showed that Ayrshire College’s Ayr Campus faces the most costly bill for “very high” priority repairs needed within a year with an estimated £1.83m of urgent works.

West College Scotland’s Finnart Street campus in Greenock has the biggest five-year maintenance backlog bill – of £15.53m. The external fabric of the 1970s tower was described as “very poor”.

Teachers’ union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the report shows the importance of “appropriate funding being made available” to the further education sector.

An EIS spokesman said: “Ensuring that college premises are fit for purpose and that appropriate planning has gone into refurbishments and new builds to ensure that they are designed to facilitate good teaching and learning is vitally important.

“Furthermore, the safety, health and wellbeing of all learners and staff should be a top priority in the design, construction and maintenance of Scotland’s educational establishments.”

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Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said that some campuses required “significant investment”.

She said the report does not take into account any costs required to make buildings fit-for-purpose or flexible to changing curriculums or provision.

She added: “Students require a modern environment in which to study, learn and gain the skills required for the workplace. Increased capital investment would, therefore, not only significantly benefit the learner experience, leading to improved retention and attainment, but would also allow colleges to contribute fully to Scottish Government priorities.”

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Iain Gray, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said: “Colleges have borne the brunt of SNP cuts for a decade now. The impact is 150,000 fewer students but also a difficult backlog for repairs on the colleges estates.

“The draft budget includes another inadequate settlement for colleges which will leave them struggling financially.

“Our further education sector would be better off is the SNP dropped the spin and substantially invested in colleges instead.”

Further Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said that ministers had asked for the survey to “ensure there was a robust and consistent assessment of the condition of buildings right across the college estate to help identify priorities for future investment”.

“This report clearly identifies areas where college buildings deliver on our ambitions, but equally it outlines some challenges in the condition of buildings in some specific colleges,” she said.

“It is my expectation that the Scottish Funding Council and the college sector use this report to effectively prioritise the finite capital investment available and ensure resources are targeted to where they are needed most.”

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