Glasgow colleges play musical chairs with courses

24th October 2014 at 01:00
Staff may face being relocated in `transfer of activity'

A dramatic shake-up at further education colleges in Glasgow could force lecturers to move to neighbouring institutions or even face redundancy as a result of sweeping changes to provision and the curriculum, new proposals reveal.

According to the plans for 2015-20, the city's Clyde and Kelvin Colleges would need to cut their offerings significantly, which could in turn lead to a loss of up to 64 teaching staff and a potential reduction of pound;4.1 million in core funding. The plans also mean that cuts would be expected to support and management staff at the two colleges. In addition, the proposals would entail the closure of Glasgow Kelvin's city centre campus.

Meanwhile, City of Glasgow College would increase its offering by more than 20 per cent as it moves into its new, larger, multimillion-pound campus, which is currently under construction. This move could create some 95 full-time jobs.

The proposals have been drawn up and put out for consultation by the Glasgow Colleges Strategic Partnership. They are meant to ensure that "across the region, the right college courses are in the right place and the best possible use is made of the three colleges' resources and facilities".

The partnership, made up of senior staff from all three colleges, has also proposed a refocusing of the curriculum to align it more closely with the economic needs of the city.

It stressed that the majority of the current curriculum was appropriate for the needs of the region and its learners, but suggested a reduction in courses related to creative and cultural industries. Instead, it said, an increase in administration, financial and business services courses, as well as those in education, hospitality and chemical sciences, would be beneficial.

The changes would require a reduction in activity at Clyde and Kelvin colleges of 6 and 11 per cent respectively. The consultation document says that in order to meet those requirements, teaching staff may be required to move colleges or face voluntary redundancy.

"The transfer of activity between the three Glasgow colleges will inevitably result in the profile of the workforce at each of the colleges changing over the period," the report says.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, which represents college lecturers, told TESS: "The potential impact on students from a wide range of backgrounds, as well as the implications for lecturers and other staff, must be mitigated in any proposed reorganisation of provision.

"The EIS will, of course, pay particular attention to any aspects of the review that could potentially have an impact on the quality and quantity of FE provision, as well as staffing levels within the city's FE colleges. We will take action to seek to prevent members from being made redundant."

He added that it was essential to have a full and meaningful consultation with all those who would be affected.

A spokesman for the three Glasgow colleges said that the strategic review had been shared with staff and their representatives prior to its findings being made public. He also said that the colleges were seeking as many people and organisations as possible to participate in the consultation process.

Laurence Howells, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "Glasgow used to have seven colleges competing to provide similar things. It now has three colleges working together with the regional board to provide one integrated service for the city and its surrounding areas".

Glasgow is one of only three multi-college regions in Scotland and the only one governed by a separate regional body. This summer, TESS revealed that the regional board could cost up to pound;89,000 in staff, recruitment, office and administration costs for the months from September to December alone. A spokeswoman for the regional board said that it did not have a comment on the plans at this time.

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