College Mergers (Glasgow)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 26 June 2013.

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Photo of Drew Smith Drew Smith Labour

5. To ask the Scottish Government what progress has been made on college mergers in Glasgow. (S4O-02296)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

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 before Parliament.

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

Photo of Drew Smith Drew Smith Labour

Can the cabinet secretary say how many extra places will be available for prospective college students in Glasgow as a result of the mergers?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

That will be a matter for discussion by the colleges with the regional board, which is taking the regional overview. That is a major innovation, because it will allow the colleges to look at regional need and to operate as colleges of scale. The matter will also be for discussion with the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, which is, of course, sensitive to the issue of how places should be provided.

The important thing is that we have met the targets that we set ourselves for places, and that those places are high-quality places that ensure that young people—and older people—are well prepared for the world of work. That will be greatly welcomed by many people across the city of Glasgow. It is about time the Labour Party got in step with that.

Photo of Joan McAlpine Joan McAlpine Scottish National Party

I welcome the comments from Paul Little, the principal of the City of Glasgow College, who said that the college merger has created a “world-class institution”. Does the cabinet secretary believe that the merger has created a college that is better able to deliver courses in line with skills demand? [Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I believe that that is true, and it would perhaps be surprising if I did not. From his seat, Mr Findlay just shouted out, “Well read!” at a fellow member, which neither shows respect for that member, nor is it the type of debate that we need in the chamber. Why am I surprised that Mr Findlay did that?

The reality is that we need to have colleges of scale that deliver for the people of Scotland. We have started off on that process of reform and we have listened to the concerns of the sector and worked with it. I hope that, this afternoon, we will pass a bill that will put in place regionalisation, which is a significant change, and which will assist the colleges in delivering what they are best at delivering. That is a big step forward.