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Reid Kerr snaps up pound;20m bargain in Tesco sales

ONE of the most ambitious and complex renewal plans for a Scottish college was unveiled last week in a pound;20 million development involving Reid Kerr College in Paisley and Tesco.

An 80,000 sq ft Tesco superstore will be built on part of the college's Paisley site where some of the buildings will be upgraded and the main St Mirin block replaced. Tesco will then close its Renfrew store where a new 20,000 sq ft campus will cater for several hundred students.

Joe Mooney, the principal who has been largely credited with turning round Reid Kerr's fortunes, said: "The college is at a crossroads. Reid Kerr has become one of the fastest growing further education colleges in Scotland. But, while we can continue to improve the quality of our teaching, without improving and expanding the quality of our buildings we cannot progress at the rate we want to go."

The college aims to increase its student intake by 2,000 a year over the next few years if the plans are approved. Apart from planning permission, the deal will require the blessing of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council.

The deal is seen as an economic as well as an educational necessity for Renfrewshire, and has been enthusiastically endorsed by Wendy Alexander, the Paisley North MSP and former Lifelong Learning Minister. Ms Alexander described Reid Kerr's renaissance as "a great turnaround story". Student numbers have risen from 12,000 to more than 16,000.

John Kelly, branch secretary of the College Lecturers' Association, reacted positively to the news.

CHANGING COLLEGES

The Reid Kerr link with Tesco is the most unusual in a string of proposals:

* Telford College in Edinburgh plans a pound;55 million move to a waterfront site by the Forth, for which the funding council has set aside pound;15 million.

* Fife College is to undergo a pound;12.5 million transformation of its St Brycedale campus in Kirkcaldy.

* Angus College aims for a new pound;6.9 million "state-of-the-art" building.

* Motherwell College hopes to move from its cramped location to the complex that will arise on the site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks.

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