South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has appealed to the Scottish Government for support to expand virtual learning opportunities at Dumfries & Galloway College as well as at other educational establishments across Scotland.

The SNP MSP was taking part in an online question and answer session at the Scottish parliament last week when she asked the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead MSP what support the Scottish Government could give the sector.

Ms McAlpine praised Dumfries and Galloway College for its achievements in virtual learning so far but stressed that for it to expand its capacity more funds would have to be made available.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“I know from conversations with senior management at the college that they’re keen to expand their virtual learning capacity so I asked the minister what support the Scottish Government could give them to enable them to do this.

“For example, many students don’t have laptops but they’re necessary for virtual learning. More funding needs to be made available so that no-one is excluded from participating in online classes.

“I also asked the minister what support could be made available to help colleges to design new courses to respond to covid-19 as we move out of lockdown. For example, there will be a demand from those in professions like hairdressing or plumbing for training in social distancing measures or how to use PPE safely.

“I was delighted that the minister praised Dumfries and Galloway College highly as a vanguard for remote learning, describing it as a beacon which could be emulated by other schools and colleges. He says he recognises that this is an anxious time for our students and highlighted a number of hardship and discretionary funds that have already been made available to support the sector. He promised to make sure that all students would have access to the appropriate equipment for online classes and said he’d look at bringing forward other measures like improving connectivity and infrastructure so that students can continue to receive high quality learning despite the pandemic restrictions.”