I congratulate Alasdair Morgan on securing this welcome debate, which allows us to continue to acknowledge the Crichton campus's important contribution to improving access to higher education in the south-west. Members have already highlighted that
At this point, I must correct Rosie Kane. This is not a fight to save Crichton campus, and I am sure that other members will wish to join me in reassuring the good people of the south-west and beyond that the Crichton campus is not under threat in any shape, manner or form. As several members—including Alex Fergusson and Elaine Murray—have mentioned, since the previous debate on the issue, ministers have approved the merger of the University of Paisley and Bell College, which, subject to the will of Parliament after the election, will be implemented from August. Significantly, the new merged institution will operate a four-campus model that will provide local delivery to meet the needs of people in the west of Scotland.
Contrary to what Alex Fergusson and, to an extent, Murray Tosh said, the Executive has a good record in supporting and funding the expansion of such provision, and provision in rural Scotland more generally. The University of Glasgow and the University of Paisley receive a combined total of 150 funded places, which is worth a total of £775,000 at this year's prices. Funding per place stands at £5,165, which is 4 per cent more than the funding per place for the UHI and a full 13 per cent more than the average for all higher education institutions in Scotland. The funding per place for the Crichton campus is calculated on the basis of the average funding for Glasgow and Paisley universities.