Smooth launch for merger

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Leaders of the college and university sectors say they are "encouraged" by changes made to the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill, following consultation. The Bill merges the FE and HE funding councils with the aim of bringing "coherent strategic decision-making". The Association of Scottish Colleges and Universities Scotland have welcomed the Executive's acceptance that the diversity of FE and HE should be respected, and that the new council should not have extensive planning powers.

The measure has not received such a warm political endorsement, however, with opponents accusing ministers of taking powers which would allow them to introduce top-up tuition fees. But the Scottish Executive says that setting a "maximum fee level" will require parliamentary approval.

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