Give them a second chance

7th November 2003 at 00:00
A leading college principal has cautioned MSPs against more investment in the universities.

Janet Lowe, principal of Lauder College, told the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the impact of top-up fees in England, that attracting more students into full-time higher education straight from school is not what Scotland needs.

Ms Lowe, who sits on the board of Scottish Enterprise, told Holyrood's enterprise committee, which is conducting the inquiry: "It is arguably much more important to invest in the existing workforce that has missed out on higher education in earlier stages of life. Such people are prepared to study part-time for higher national certificate and diploma qualifications and for professional awards."

Tom Kelly, chief officer of the Association of Scottish Colleges, warned that top-up fees could undermine Scotland's broad-based approach to lifelong learning. "We are much more Nordic than Ivy League in our approach to higher education," Mr Kelly said.

"Our system enables people, wherever they start from, to aspire to access degrees, but by different routes. We do not invest our all only in the fast stream or only in full-time students and we would not like that to be lost."

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