Crichton University Campus

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 1:03 pm on 22nd March 2007.

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Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour 1:03 pm, 22nd March 2007

Through close working with Dumfries and Galloway College and other colleges, the newly merged institution will be able to provide strong transitional support for students who transfer from college to university. Scottish colleges are successful in providing that transitional route from further education into higher education, through the important higher national certificate and higher national diploma. The role of encouraging more people to access higher education is fundamental to the future expansion of further education and will, I think, help to develop the Crichton campus exponentially. However, I acknowledge the point that the member makes.

What I have said does not mean that we are complacent in any way about the commitment that we have given to engage with the Scottish funding council, the University of Glasgow and other Crichton partners about the issues that have been raised over the future delivery of higher and further education in the region.

As I have emphasised previously—Murray Tosh and Elaine Murray made the point, too—such discussions should not be based on the incorrect premise that ministers should, or indeed legally can, direct funding to a particular institution. I assume that we would all agree that that is not the solution. Our key aim is to ensure that adequate further and higher education is available in the south of Scotland, and that that provision is quality provision. I very much welcome the funding council's clear commitment to that, and the engagement of the academic partners and other stakeholders in taking that forward for Dumfries and Galloway through development of the academic strategy, which is welcomed in the motion.