August 1 was an important milestone in the Scottish government's far-reaching reform of post-16 learning as four new regional colleges are created.
Ten colleges will merge to become four large regional institutions in Glasgow, Fife, Ayrshire and the West. The scale and influence of these new colleges, and the combined expertise on which they will be able to draw, will ensure a better service for students and employers.
Indeed, college regionalisation represents the most ambitious, student-focused changes in the college sector for a generation. It is happening because our commitment to sustainable economic growth demands a more coherent approach to the delivery of the skills and training that employers need to compete at home and abroad.
These reforms build on colleges' strong track record in vocational training and the sector's pivotal role in delivering the government's Opportunities for All pledge to offer all 16- to 19-year-olds a place in education or training.
Today marks the culmination of enormous vision, dedication and hard work by the leaders, staff and students of these colleges.
I want to thank them for their part in laying the foundations for a new structure that will serve Scotland well for decades to come.
I also want to wish the four principals - Audrey Cumberford at West College Scotland, Heather Dunk at Ayrshire College, Susan Walsh at Glasgow Clyde College and Hugh Logan at Fife College - and their teams the very best for a successful future.
Boards and principals across Scotland are working hard to create further regional colleges and I am sure that they will draw inspiration from their colleagues' achievements.
Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education.