Mr Gray gave a strong steer to colleges to press ahead with merger talks. He endorsed the merger agreement in principle among the "big three" Glasgow city centre colleges - Building and Printing, Commerce and Food Technology - and the discussions being held involving Stow and North Glasgow colleges.
These moves and the links between FE and higher education in the Highlands and the south-west of Scotland showed that "breaking the mould" is possible. But he stressed that this did not suggest such approaches were options for everybody. "I don't subscribe to the one size fits all philosophy," Mr Gray said.