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College mergers are politically motivated

February 21, 2012 6:13 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesman, Liam McArthur MSP has responded to evidence given to Holyrood's Education and Culture Committee this morning by Professor Russel Griggs. Last month, Professor Griggs published his report to Scottish Ministers on the future governance of Scotland's colleges, in which he supported plans for widespread mergers across the sector.

Commenting on the evidence provided by Professor Griggs this morning, Mr McArthur said:

"Education Secretary, Mike Russell has demanded that colleges 'regionalise'. His adviser, Professor Griggs insists that wholesale mergers will be required to achieve this. The Griggs Report also states that the regional structure would allow "policy to be more nationally managed" and that a single Regional Board should be given "power and control" over funding.

"I know from speaking to college Principals across the UHI network of the concern that is felt about this approach to delivering further education in the Highlands & Islands. Alarms bells are ringing at the prospect of Inverness holding the purse strings and deciding how much to dispense to colleges across UHI.

"UHI is already a highly regionalised structure, covering a vast geographic area. In response to my questions, Professor Griggs acknowledged this fact by stating that UHI is 'unique'.

"However, he went on to say that his Group had not gone into detail on how his proposals might work in this region. Such candour is commendable but hardly likely to allay fears within the UHI network.

"It is absolutely clear that the Education Secretary is hell-bent on grabbing as much control as he can over Scotland's colleges. Today's evidence suggests that this is politically-driven rather than evidence-based".