I met the principal of the University of Glasgow and the chief executive of the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council on 19 March. The university has confirmed that it will continue to deliver initial teacher training and social work at Crichton and that it remains committed to developing the academic strategy for the region.
The university has subsequently written to staff indicating that there would be no fundamental change to academic staff in 2007-08 and that administrative and support staffing structures should also substantially remain in place. It has also confirmed that a decision has yet to be made on undergraduate intake beyond 2007-08.
Some of us might think that stopping the intake of students represents a substantial change of approach. Be that as it may, it seemed clear from the earlier debate that the minister has given up any pretence of supporting the long-term provision of liberal arts courses that the University of Glasgow has been offering at the Crichton campus. For the sake of clarity, will the minister say whether he is committed to keeping the University of Glasgow's liberal arts courses at the Crichton—yes or no?
The one consistent thing about Mr Ballance's comments in the chamber is that
Mr Ballance must be aware that the University of Glasgow is an autonomous institution that takes its own decisions on the provision of education within its sphere of influence—on the Crichton campus and elsewhere—without ministerial interference or influence, which should be the case. We remain committed, as the University of Glasgow is, to developing an academic strategy for the region in concert with other higher education providers. The University of Paisley and Bell College are fundamental contributors in that process. We expect the Crichton campus to continue to expand and to provide broad and quality education for the foreseeable future.