Labour call for clarity in university merger plan


Labour has called on the Scottish government to provide more information after Education secretary Mike Russell unveiled proposals that would allow some colleges and universities to merge.

Mr Russell insisted the changes were necessary in order to maintain standards and opportunity in post-16 education.

The minister said: “Ideally I would wish to see emerge regional groupings of colleges, with a spread of specialist, higher-level and access-level provision delivered locally, greater collaboration between universities, with the possibility of mergers where that makes educational and financial sense.”

Mr Russell described the measures as “long overdue”.

Speaking in the chamber Labour’s education spokesman Ken Macintosh said: “The minister needs to tell us which universities and colleges face merger.  He should also tell us if the principals of our universities and colleges were consulted before this statement was made.

“There’s a real lack of detail in his statement and he should bring forward some real answers for the further education sector without delay.”

The University and College Union Scotland and the National Union of Students (NUS) welcomed the reforms, in particular the commitment to a £7,000 minimum income for the poorest students.