Students at the City of Glasgow College say they feel they've been left with nowhere to go after the decision to withdraw Scotland's only HNC and HND radio course.

A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is considered to be roughly equivalent to a year at university but is generally studied over the course of two years and has less stringent entry requirements.

That can be followed by a Higher National Diploma (HND), which typically takes one year after completing an HNC or two years if going straight from National 5 or Higher.

City of Glasgow College offers NQ Broadcasting: An Introduction To Television And Radio Production NQ, but has withdrawn the Radio and Podcasting HNC and HND qualifications.

As it was the only college in Scotland to offer the qualifications, pupils say they now have no way to progress unless the decision is reversed.

Derick Williamson, class representative, said: "I’m 16 and I didn’t really have an interest in school, I didn’t think there was any point in staying on after fourth year and didn’t know what I wanted to do.

The Herald:

“I came across the NQ Broadcasting course in the college and thought it might be an interesting route to go down.

“I started volunteering at a community radio station called Cumbernauld FM and my love of radio has grown from there, but now they’ve cut the course and there’s nowhere to progress educationally.

“There are university BA courses but we can’t jump straight to that level – I’m 16 I don’t have Advanced Highers, I don’t have Highers.

“A lot of these universities or any higher education degree I can’t really do with Nat 5 qualifications.

The Herald:

“As a 16-year-old and a student I’m relying on these qualifications, through the NQ broadcasting course I was hoping to get an HNC and progress onto an HND.

"We’ve been left in a rush to try and possibly find a new course, but we’re fighting for the HNC radio course to come back.

“We’ve created a petition and we’ve also posted several social media posts to get the attention of radio presenters around Scotland.

“A lot of radio presenters who have supported us have come from these courses but we don’t have that base to go off anymore.

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"It’s not just the students who are affected, it’s the lecturers too. Our lecturer could possibly lose his job because he taught the radio courses and they’re taking away the HNC and HND.

“We’re trying to fight for this course and trying to encourage other students who are also facing course cuts to fight for theirs too.

“It’s a hard time just now but we’re doing all we can.”

City of Glasgow College recently resolved a bitter industrial dispute with EIS-FELA, having looked to impose 100 compulsory redundancies on staff as it looks to deal with a £6m budget shortfall.

With union members on strike classes were disrupted, and many on the NQ Broadcasting course feel the scrapping of the higher qualifications only compounds a frustrating entry into further education.

Nicole Gillespie said: "We have three lecturers and two of them were part of it so we’ve only properly got started with the course in more recent weeks and now we’ve been told we can’t progress any further.

The Herald:

"I’m from outside of Edinburgh and I came to Glasgow to do the course, because it’s the only one in Scotland.

“Now they’re getting rid of the HNC and HND, so there are no other routes to go down because they’re the last ones in Scotland.

“We all had a route to go down to achieve our dream careers but it’s been taken away from us and we’re left not knowing what to do.

“It just feels like everything we were promised has been taken away.

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"What we’ve done isn’t going to get us anywhere in terms of education, there might be other routes like apprenticeships but Derick is 16 and a lot of apprenticeships you need to be 18 for.

“The college are blaming Scottish Government funding and the Scottish Government are blaming the college - we’re stuck in the middle.”

William Meikle said: "I’m the same age as Derick. We left school to go to this course, we could have been getting more qualifications if we’d known the course we wanted to do might not even exist.

"I wanted to do the course because I fell in love with radio. Originally I wanted to go on to the HNC course but I didn’t have the right qualifications.

“I went into the NQ course so I could progress onto that, and now it’s been cancelled I feel I’ve done it for no point.”

A City of Glasgow College spokesperson said: “It is a normal process for colleges to evaluate their course provision on a regular basis. Annually, we undertake a Portfolio Review, which is a detailed scrutiny of the performances of all our courses examining a three-year period, and this systematic approach helps inform our executive decision making about the future viability of courses. Each year, following these reviews, a small number of courses are subsequently removed from our portfolio for under performance, while replacement courses are added.

“Regrettably, all Colleges are planning for an expected 4.7% cash cut to our overall funding following the recently announced Scottish Government’s Draft Budget for 2024/25, and our final decision on courses is also influenced by the financial environment for Colleges. Therefore, we took the tough decision to remove HNC and HND Broadcasting and Radio from our curriculum portfolio for the next academic year in light of acute funding and financial pressures facing the college sector coupled with low enrolment for this course – this year’s HNC course only has seven students – which is simply not viable.

“We understand the disappointment this decision has caused, which is why we are taking every action possible to mitigate the impact of those students directly affected, and our course staff have offered and provided tutorial guidance. This year’s students all have the opportunity to complete their courses, and HNC students knew before they enrolled onto this one-year course that there was no guarantee of progression onto an HND radio course. Our students have also always known, however, that they could articulate from their course here onto Year 1 or Year 2 of a degree course at the University of the West of Scotland; our course team have discussed options at length with students and will support those who decide to progress to that university course next year. 

“Additionally, our Creative Industries Faculty has advised applicants for next year’s course that it is no longer running to enable them to have as much time as possible to consider alternative choices before the start of the 2024/25 academic year. These applicants have been advised of similar courses and adjacent pathways here at the College.” 

The petition to reinstate the HNC and HND radio courses can be found here