The seven colleges in Glasgow will today become the first to unveil their blueprint for future further education provision - a milestone on the road to college reform in Scotland.
Their draft "outcome agreement" will aim to tailor courses to the economic needs of the region and prepare students for work post-college. It is also a reaction to the new funding strategy to be implemented for 2012-13 under which government funds will be distributed to college regions instead of individual institutions.
The draft agreement is published by Stow, Cardonald, John Wheatley, Langside, Anniesland, City of Glasgow and North Glasgow colleges, under the auspices of the Glasgow Colleges Strategic Partnership. It outlines how the seven institutions plan to deliver the five priority areas identified by the Scottish Funding Council: efficient regional structures; right learning in the right place; high quality and efficient learning; a developed workforce; and sustainable institutions.
Today's consultation event allows representatives of Glasgow City Council, Skills Development Scotland and other partners to voice their opinions.
It comes as the colleges work to restructure the current seven institutions into three. Cardonald, Langside and Anniesland have already agreed to a merger in principle. As TESS went to press, the boards of Stow, North Glasgow and John Wheatley colleges were expected to give their agreement to substantive merger discussions between their colleges.
Laurence Howells, senior director of skills, research and knowledge exchange at the Scottish Funding Council, said: "This is an important milestone towards an exciting, new and integrated approach to college education in Glasgow."
The Glasgow region is the biggest of the 13 set out by the government. In 2010-11, its seven colleges were attended by 66,232 students and more than 18 million hours of learning were delivered. This represents over one fifth of FE activity in Scotland.
Alan Sherry, principal of John Wheatley College, said: "To me, personally, this shows that the colleges in Glasgow can work together to deliver the government's ambitions."
North Glasgow College principal Ronnie Know stressed the common strategy was not a first step towards one big college for Glasgow.
- To reduce the number of colleges within the region.
- To determine, rationalise and align the curriculum portfolio across the region.
- To maintain and develop national specialisms.
- To sustain the delivery of an appropriate community outreach programme.
- To increase the number of students articulating to higher education with advanced standing.
- To increase key sector and employer engagement.
- To ensure colleges operate sustainably.
- To deliver further efficiency savings.