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Post-16 bill hailed as legislative landmark

The Scottish Parliament has passed landmark legislation, which has been praised as the most significant reform programme of the post-16 sector in a generation.

The Post-16 Education Bill aims to widen access to university for students from deprived backgrounds and sets out a new, regional structure for colleges.

It does not "tinker around the edges or skirt around the issues", education secretary Michael Russell said. Mr Russell said that the bill would deliver "real reform" for Scotland's learners.

An EIS spokesman said the union supported the key aims of the legislation, but added that it had detected "an irony" in the government's attempts to widen student access to university while reducing the number of students going to FE college. He also said that the current focus on full-time, work-based college courses for 16- to 19-year-olds may make student articulation to university more difficult.

Colleges Scotland chief executive John Henderson said it had been a "very good process", in which his organisation worked well in partnership with the government. "You expect changes, but we exceeded our expectations," he said.

He said some of the changes colleges welcomed included the right of principals to be members of boards of management, the increased board size of associated colleges, as well amendments to the bill in the area of staff and asset transfers.

However, the bill was rejected by opposition parties, with Labour's Neil Findlay branding it a "shambolic, botched job".

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