A government consultation on plans for further education was a waste of time, because they were already a fait accompli, according to the EIS union.
In the latest broadside against proposals to reform the college sector, the EIS points out that the Scottish government was holding two concurrent consultations before Christmas - one on how to implement its regionalisation agenda and the other on its proposals for regionalisation per se.
"This gives rise to the perception that the work carried out in writing the EIS response to the post-16 paper was wasted, as the government has already decided to implement the proposal that it is currently consulting on," said the union in its response to the post-16 education review, Putting Learners at the Centre.
The EIS has also pointed to disparities between the government's treatment of higher and further education. Its HE proposals were "well-consulted and planned over a period of time"; its FE proposals, despite their potentially dramatic impact on the sector, were not subject to the same level of consultation, going "from pre-legislative to legislation".
Government plans for drastic budget cuts, mergers, regionalisation of the sector, and a focus on training for 16 to 19-year-olds have been highly controversial.
"In general, the EIS is not convinced that the government's plans for FE show any educational ambition, but seem to relegate the sector to providing work-based skills," said the union.
It added: "The EIS does not share the government's view that post-16 education should be shaped by the need for economic growth, nor that the raison d'etre of colleges is simply to prepare young people for work - this does not seem to be the raison d'etre of universities according to the paper."