Committee calls for clarity on post-16 education bill

22nd March 2013 at 00:00
General principles supported but there are fears over college regionalisation

Further clarification will be needed on the post-16 education bill, the Parliament's education committee has told the Scottish government.

The committee said this week that it supported the general principles of the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill, but some concerns remained, particularly around college regionalisation.

The bill aims to reform the post-16 sector, and places reorganisation of the college sector and improving governance of universities at its heart. It also seeks to widen access to higher education for students from less well-off backgrounds.

Committee convener Stewart Maxwell said that there was "general agreement about the need to reform Scotland's further and higher education sectors to ensure that they improve the life chances of young people".

But the committee has asked the government for further detail on how the new college structures will work in practice and an explanation of the underlying principles behind its planned reform of college boards.

Questions also remain on what the consequences would be for universities if they failed to meet their widening access targets, and how the risk of them adopting weak targets in this area could be avoided.

The committee has demanded clarification on how a new code of university governance would avoid straying into inappropriate areas of university management and whether the government thinks the bill should be amended in response to universities' concerns that their autonomy could be compromised by the legislation.

A detailed explanation from Skills Development Scotland was also requested of how it will support young people at risk of disengaging with learning or training.


Hugh Logan, the current principal of Motherwell College, has been appointed as principal designate of the new Fife College.

His appointment is the first instance in the national regionalisation process of an external candidate being chosen to lead a merged college, but also the latest twist in the ongoing restructuring process in Lanarkshire.

Motherwell College recently announced plans to merge with Cumbernauld College by August this year, while entering a federation with South Lanarkshire and Coatbridge colleges.

Coatbridge College initially joined merger discussions, but opted out weeks later. The dominant role of Motherwell and Cumbernauld's senior management in merger negotiations was cited as one of the reasons for its withdrawal.

A spokesperson for Motherwell College insisted Mr Logan's appointment would "not in any way affect the proposed merger between Motherwell and Cumbernauld Colleges, nor the progress of the Lanarkshire Federation".

Cumbernauld principal Martin McGuire is on secondment to Adam Smith College, which will merge with Carnegie College to form the new Fife College on 1 August. He was brought in last year after former principal Craig Thomson retired amid claims of bullying and his successor, Ian Harrington, was suspended over EU funding issues.

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