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Glasgow colleges are miles apart

IT now seems easier in Glasgow to merge Celtic and Rangers than any of the city's FE colleges after the last-minute decision of Central College to snub a link-up with its two city centre neighbours.

Moves to combine the College of Building and Printing, the College of Food Technology and the Central College of Commerce on a new site were said two weeks ago to be making good progress. Last week, however, the talks collapsed after Central's board unanimously dismissed the merger plans.

This latest development follows the collapse three weeks ago of talks between North Glasgow College and Stow College. Stow could now be pulled into a new partnership with Central and others.

Peter Duncan, Central's principal, said it was a "reluctant decision" and cited lack of vision as the chief reason.

"What we have got to do is create a college with a significant difference which enhances the learning experience of students. But we were not convinced that we were getting the level of enhancement desired. We want to create something new for generations to come," Mr Duncan said.

The board may now test the waters with Glasgow College of Nautical Studies and Stow. Finance was available for some development. "We are still open to anything," Mr Duncan pledged. "If the two other colleges (Building and Printing, and Food Technology) want to choose to go for merger, we would wish them well."

But Tom Wilson, principal of the College of Building and Printing, described the pull-out as "a big surprise". Mr Wilson was merger director and oversaw two years of negotiation. "We had a good consultation exercise which was overwhelmingly positive and the final document on April 30 went to a joint board meeting of all three boards. There were no major issues."

But two were unanimously in favour and one unanimously against. Mr Wilson said the two spurned partners "did not want two years' work to go down the drain" and promised to continue talks. "We want to leave the door open."

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