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Lift-off: Craig

(Photograph) - Thomson, principal of Scotland's newest further education college, joined the celebrations on Monday at its official launch. The Adam Smith College was formed from the merger of Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes colleges and will be Scotland's third largest, with around 20,000 students, more than 700 staff and a pound;28 million turnover.

The two colleges already had a long period of close collaboration. Dr Thomson said: "Merger is certainly one of the keys to the future of the college sector. In our case, it has proved an effective way of developing a more coherent and, I am sure, effective service. However, this does not mean that all colleges should seek to grow through merger. The critical point is establishing the best fit between colleges and the local economies and communities that they serve."

Monday was also the official date for the merger of Falkirk and Clackmannan colleges to form Forth Valley College. The new principal is Linda McKay, who was in charge at Falkirk.

Both moves were made easier by the decisions of the two other principals, Joyce Johnston at Fife and John Taylor at Clackmannan, to retire.

The latest mergers now bring the number of Scotland's incorporated FE colleges down from the original 46 to 43. Photograph by MARK FERGUSONNEWSFLASH

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