West College Scotland (Greenock Campus)

Portfolio Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 6 June 2024.

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Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party 2:00, 6 June 2024

To ask the Scottish Government when it last met with senior management of West College Scotland to discuss the college’s Greenock campus. (S6O-03532)

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

As the member knows, because he accompanied me, I visited West College Scotland on 6 July last year, when I met the college principal, the chair and staff and discussed a number of issues, including the campus. I have since met college principals and chairs in a number of forums, including as recently as Tuesday this week. The specific matter of the Greenock campus is not one that I can recall coming up in the intervening period, but such conversations would, of course, be for the college and the Scottish Funding Council to have.

Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

As the minister is very much aware, the Finnart Street campus in Greenock is past its sell-by date and needs to be replaced or to have significant investment. I understand that the preference is to have a new building to replace it, but I appreciate that budgets are tight, with the capital grant from Westminster having been cut. Can the minister outline the current Scottish Government position in relation to the future of the Finnart Street campus?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I am obviously aware of the issues at Finnart Street. The Funding Council last engaged with the college regarding its estates plans, including on managing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete—RAAC—on 6 March. The SFC is currently developing a college infrastructure investment plan and, as part of that work, it is asking each college to provide up-to-date baseline information on its estate in order to establish a robust understanding of the entirety of the college estate.

Additionally, we are working on a revised asset disposal process, so that colleges can sell unwanted land or buildings and retain a significant proportion of the value realised to invest locally. In taking up that enhanced flexibility, however, colleges should be thinking creatively about how to maximise the value of their estates through innovative approaches, including the exploration of collaboration and shared facilities.