Moray House shows the way

11th July 1997 at 01:00
For Sir Stewart Sutherland it is the vision thing that matters. Edinburgh University's principal welcomes the integration of Moray House Institute as a faculty of education because it meshes with the Government's preoccupation with education and in particular teacher training. It also enacts a partnership which Sir Stewart expects the Dearing committee to promote involving schools, teacher in-service and the educational faculties of universities. All this will put Scotland, and especially the capital, in a favoured position.

At Moray House the prospect of merger is regarded more practically. Staff recognise the opportunities of working in Scotland's most successful university. They hope that the financially driven constraints of an institution largely dependent on one declining activity, teacher training, will be removed.

Certainly, Moray House, which shared the budgetary difficulties of other "monotechs", is able to approach merger not as a client seeking help but as a junior partner. The sale of properties at Newington and soon at Cramond will benefit the merged institution, as will the opportunity to develop city-centre facilities, especially for physical education and sport.

Sir Stewart and Gordon Kirk of Moray House, who will become dean of the new faculty, are confident that the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council will oil the four-year transition process. Sensible mergers, especially those that involve financially exposed colleges, are being actively encouraged. The College of Textiles, whose relationship with Heriot-Watt was similar to Moray House's but without the debilitating resentments, is surrendering its autonomy.

Attention now turns to the remaining independent colleges of education. St Andrew's negotiations with Glasgow University face a so far unresolved denominational obstacle. Everyone asks what is to happen to Northern College with its two city campuses and an embarrassing experience at the hands of the research quality assessors. An answer cannot long be delayed.

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