Scotland's Quangos and Free Education
According to a Sunday Herald survey, (scroll down), if you are a senior figure at one of Scotland's quangos studying for a postgraduate qualification, it's free.
Scottish Water has spent £591,231 on higher education courses since 2007, including funding four BMAs at the Edinburgh Management School and a £4020 MSc in climate change and sustainable development at Leicester University.
The hundreds of postgraduate and undergraduate courses most often seem to benefit public sector staff, many of whom receive generous salaries and bonuses.
Scottish Enterprise spent £289,508 on courses in the last four years. In 2007/08 they funded 11 MBAs and they also paid for staff to study for MSc degrees in local economic development, economics, urban policy, city planning and management.
Scottish Enterprise's sister body Highland and Islands Enterprise has spent £55,329 since 2007 on university and college courses.
Transport Scotland has used its budget to fund £33,999 worth of courses. Of the 26 courses that have been funded, 10 were for an MSc.
Visit Scotland, the quango associated with promoting tourism, spent £155,000 on courses since 2007 while the Scottish Courts Service spent £52,000 in the same period.
NHS Education for Scotland funded 4 BMAs at a cost of £17,929, plus 5 PhDs and a BA in business, as well as contributing towards a degree in social science. Scottish Natural Heritage spent nearly £73,000 including a BA in philosophy and psychology. When asked how a such a course benefitted the country's natural heritage, a spokesman said: "We are unable to give details of this particular course due to date protection."
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, (they have form), found £3540 to help its 'technical solutions adviser' study for an MBA while it also spent £1619 to help former chief executive Ron Culley complete a 'certificate in terrorism studies'.
The Water Industry Commission for Scotland, the biggest spender on a single course, confirmed spending £30,246 to place one of its analysts on an MBA course with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. A spokesman said the employee undertook the training in London, not the US. Does that make it any better?
The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration managed to find £48,587 for a law degree, an MBA for a director and 14 postgraduate diplomas in public sector leadership and a £2455 course in creativity, innovation and change.
In total, the Herald's survey has revealed that more than a dozen public bodies have collectively spent up to £1.5m on university-level courses for their staff. The figure excludes the Scottish Government, health boards and councils.
We spend £billions providing higher education in this country. Many PhD students fund their own courses and so too do some of those studying for an MBA and other courses which could enhance their ability to earn more. If these qualifications are so essential to a specific job, why aren't these quangos employing those who are already qualified for the positions they hold? We have thousands of well qualified graduates who have difficulty finding employment.
If these well paid quango staff wish to gain qualifications which have no relevance to the post they presently hold (such as an MBA), that should be done at their own expense, not ours. That's the way it used to be and often the old ways were much fairer to all.