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More mergers to come

The next merger in the Scottish further education sector looks like being between Glasgow Metropolitan College and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, bringing the number of colleges down to 42.

If the plan is approved by Fiona Hyslop, the Education and Lifelong Learning Secretary, it could take effect from August.

The two colleges will be joined at the hip as part of the multi-million pound development of a city centre campus in Glasgow, in which they will link up with the Central College of Commerce and Stow College. The latest move will create "Glasgow Metropolitan College incorporating the Institute of Nautical Studies" - although there is said to be sensitivity in the Nautical College about the title.

The two institutions receive just over pound;20 million from the Scottish Funding Council, employ just under 500 full-time equivalent staff and have 22,000 student enrolments.

In a statement to stakeholders issued before Christmas, the colleges say they are "financially sound and have strong reputations as main trading providers for major industries such as maritime and shipping, building, printing, food, hospitality, tourism and the creative industries".

The staff at both colleges are said to favour the merger, but Frank Healy, area officer for the Educational Institute of Scotland in Glasgow, said the pre-requisite was that there must be a unified set of terms and conditions for lecturers in the two institutions.

At present, there are separate pay and working arrangements in Glasgow Metropolitan College, since it is the product of a merger between Glasgow College of Building and Printing and Glasgow College of Food Technology. The union says it does not want to perpetuate these divisions in the new merger, particularly as it says academic staff at the nautical college have a better deal than those at "the Met".

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