Sometimes local people are interested in preserving a particular institution but may not see the potential for excellence from a merger. For example, City of Glasgow College in the centre of Glasgow was created from a merger of a number of older colleges, many of which were in buildings that were not fit for purpose or had poor facilities. The new college has two sites, the city campus and the riverside campus, both of which are brand new. It sits between Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University, and its building is the most impressive of them all. The subjects offered include catering, building trades, engineering and nautical studies, to name but a few. It has state-of-the-art simulators —I had a great shot in one last week—and is training ship staff for all over the world. Gary Maclean, the winner of last year’s “MasterChef”, is training future chefs there. It is a world-leading institution with more than 30,000 students and it has the potential for 10,000 more. It really is at the cutting edge of college education, but it has taken massive capital investment—a step that the UK Government could follow if they are serious about investment in the sector.
The UK Government could take other steps. They could follow Scotland’s lead and reinstate the educational maintenance allowance, which allows young people from deprived backgrounds to remain in education. Yvonne Fovargue mentioned class sizes and the impact of large class sizes on the marginally qualified. Those are the young people who colleges should be reaching out for and making a difference to.
In conclusion, I absolutely support the calls from the Support our Sixth-formers campaign for the £200 per student uplift; that is a drop in the ocean when we are talking about a young person’s educational journey. These young people have our future in their hands. It is important that we give them the tools and the funds for success.