THE ASPIRATIONS of Bell College in Hamilton to become Scotland's fourteenth university received a jolt yesterday (Thursday) when Glasgow councillors said it should stay as a further education college.
Existing universities in the west of Scotland are already under financial pressure and the number should not be increased, the council's sub-committee on continuing education was told.
A paper by Ronnie O'Connor, senior depute director, said: "As Bell College already has close links with Strathclyde University, and as established universities seem to be linking with each other increasingly, Bell should not be encouraged to aim to become another university."
The college has applied to the Scottish Office to be designated a higher education institution, the first step towards university status.
Bell claims 100 per cent work at HE level and broad provision in engineering, health and social science, business and the sciences, with 21 degree courses.
But Glasgow says that most of the teaching is at levels one and two within the Scotcat framework, which designates levels of course to allow student transfer between institutions.
Mr O'Connor's paper says that the Garrick report last year recommended that higher education within further education colleges should be funded by the Scottish Office - not through the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, as Bell now wants.
"The education department has some difficulty in understanding the apparent lack of clear criteria for designating an institution one of higher education as opposed to further education," Mr. O'Connor states. Bell's student population of 2,500 and the range of its courses would make it relatively small compared with existing universities. So it would do better to stay in the FE sector and develop its links with Strathclyde.