A tutor at Perth College UHI’s learning centres has called the decision to close the satellite facilities this summer as “callous beyond belief”.
The college announced on Friday evening it will shut its centres in Kinross, Crieff and Blairgowrie in June, blaming “significant financial challenges”.
The Courier understands a number of staff and students were left in the dark regarding the decision, which puts 30 jobs under threat.
The tutor, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I am extremely upset about this turn of events, I feel that its been handled very badly with no consideration for the students and their well being.
“In an era when mental health issues and loneliness are rife it seems callous beyond belief to close down these valuable resources.
“One of my students started getting in touch with me on Saturday and I didn’t know what they were talking about. I was just flabbergasted. I just think it’s incredibly sad.”
The tutor said they hoped the college could find the extra funding to save the learning centres, which they described as “vital” for rural communities.
A second employee, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: “After months and months of being misled they’re closing the centres at the end of June and throwing people on the dole.”
More Perthshire politicians have joined the call to save the learning centres after Roseanna Cunningham MSP and Pete Wishart MP spoke out on Friday evening.
Murdo Fraser MSP said: “These local learning centres are important assets in our towns and I am concerned to hear that they will close.
“Those living in rural areas need access to education, and do not always have the capacity or means to travel to an urban centre like Perth.”
John Swinney MSP said: “I am very concerned by this news and will be raising this issue with the college.
“I will be seeking reassurance about the delivery of learning opportunities to my constituents in Blairgowrie and in the city centre as it is vital there is effective access for all learners.
“I will also be seeking urgent assurances regarding the future of members of staff, who deliver vital educational opportunities within the community.”
The college said that they would meet their staff members to discuss their future and were looking at redeployment opportunities for managers and cleaners.
A Perth College UHI spokesperson said: “Each of the three Learning Centres has a manager, and one of the centres employs a cleaner.
“We are looking at redeployment opportunities to find suitable alternative roles for these individuals.
“We have 26 leisure tutors who work variably in one or more of our leisure centres, including Pathways.
“We have arranged to meet our tutors to discuss shaping our future programme, which will be delivered at refurbished premises on our Crieff Road campus.”