Some time ago, the Scottish Executive decided to combine the separate funding councils supporting further and higher education. This makes good sense, but the membership of the new joint council gives pause for thought, especially in Glasgow which sends proportionally many more students to FE colleges and many fewer to universities than the rest of Scotland.
One member of the new council is a former college principal, but no member is currently in direct touch with the FE sector. In contrast, six members are paid employees of Scottish universities and another one, the ex-college principal, is a member of a university court. The council as a whole will therefore have a much more intimate knowledge of the needs of, and the pressures on, the students, teachers and administrators of one sector than it possibly can of the other.
The new joint organisation was set up to plan for and fund continuing education at all levels. Compared to the universities, the colleges have a much lower public profile and a less strident lobby.
Editors hold degrees and the same tends to be true of people who write letters to the papers or to their MSPs. Scotland can equal or surpass the rest of the western world in the education of half its citizens, but the solution of many of our economic and social difficulties depends on what is, or is not, happening among the other half.
I am bound to wonder whether the newly established funding council as it is constituted is the ideal body for its challenging job.
Martin Axford Bonar Crescent Bridge of Weir