College Mergers (Glasgow)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 26 June 2013.

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Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

10. To ask the Scottish Government what progress there has been in respect of further education college mergers in Glasgow. (S4O-02301)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

As I stated a few moments ago in my answer to Drew Smith, I have approved a proposal from Langside, Cardonald and Anniesland colleges to merge. The colleges aim for a vesting date of 1 November 2013. The necessary order has been laid in Parliament.

I will also consider the merger of Stow, John Wheatley and North Glasgow colleges in due course.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I am grateful to the cabinet secretary for his response and for his forbearance in repeating it. What are the costs to date of facilitating the merger of Stow, John Wheatley, and North Glasgow colleges, and what savings does the cabinet secretary expect will accrue from the merger when is complete?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I will be very happy to provide those details in writing to the member. Obviously, some of the figures still require to come out of the development of the business case, but the member will be pleased to know that, overall, college reform will deliver efficiencies of £50 million-plus per year from 2014-15.

Of course, reform is not all about money; it is about providing a better service to students, more full-time courses, better opportunities for students, and colleges of scale. That is precisely what will happen with the mergers, and that is why they are being so warmly welcomed.

Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary agree that the new name for any college should be as inclusive as possible and should not suggest that one college has taken over the other two?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

That is an interesting point. There have been no recent college mergers in which the name of one college has become the name of the whole.

I encourage colleges to think creatively and constructively about their names. I would like to see the commemoration of significant educational figures within college names. College names that are purely utilitarian or functional are perhaps not as good as those that commemorate the great figures. For example, I know that, in Glasgow, a proposal has been made to consider the name of Mary Barbour. That strikes me as a positive proposal. It has come from the trade unions and it has been supported by some Labour MSPs. It is not for me to say what the name should be, but that proposal seems very positive and, were it to come about, it would be warmly welcomed.