College reform argument has been won - Russell

Mike Russell says there is no going back. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Mike Russell says there is no going back. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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EDUCATION secretary Mike Russell has warned opponents of college reform that there is no “way back” after a series of mergers which re-shaped the further education sector.

Speaking to college leaders at a conference in Edinburgh, Mr Russell said he hoped the argument over college regionalisation had been “won”.

A number of Scottish colleges have either merged or are due to merge after the Scottish Government outlined plans to radically re-shape the sector to focus on vocational training for 16 to 19 year olds.

Mr Russell said: “Reform has gone well and there’s more to do. I hope the argument has been won about the benefits of regionalisation.

“There isn’t a way back from this and there shouldn’t be a way back. This is the right thing to do.”

Mr Russell also outlined a new law which requires all universities and colleges to have a students’ association.

The measure, which is part of the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act, is among the first substantive provisions of the act, which came into force yesterday.

Gordon Maloney, president of the National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland, said: “For far too long student input into how colleges are run has been missing. The Griggs Report into college governance clearly highlighted the benefits of strong, autonomous, sustainable and appropriately funded students’ association for the sector as a whole. This should be a message to colleges to make that a reality.”