Inverness College hopes a pound;5.5 million learning resource centre, officially opened on Wednesday, will prove a symbolic turning point in its fortunes.
A video conference with France, Norway and Nova Scotia marked the occasion, attended by the Earl of Dalkeith, a member of the Millennium Commission which provided major funding. The new facility aims to strengthen Inverness's claim to be at the heart of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The opening also marked the departure of Janet Price, the former principal, whose unhappy tenure was marred by a series of bitter disputes with the unions.
Lecturers have now struck a three-year deal giving them a cost-of-living award plus 1 per cent (an expected 3.5 per cent rise). Voluntary redundancy was accepted by 14 lecturers and 13 support staff as part of the package.
Meanwhile the troubles at Reid Kerr College in Paisley continue as the College Lecturers' Association clashed with the man ordered in by the Education Minister to help draw up a rescue plan. The union has accused HMI Iain MacRobert of taking "a flippant attitude" to redundancy plans which will affect 58 lecturers and 17 support and management jobs. "The ego has landed," John Kelly, the CLA's branch secretary, said.
The college say job losses are unavoidable as debts head for more than pound;1 million. The Scottish Office has ordered the payroll to be slashed by pound;1.5 million to bring salaries into line with the national FE average.