Colleges make a huge contribution towards Scotland’s performance in education, skills and the economy. But the college sector has been largely unreformed in the last 20 years, and we want to improve:
- how our colleges are funded
- how the sector is structured
- the type of educational and training opportunities colleges provide
- the quality of that provision
- colleges’ accountability
We believe all of these can be best achieved by colleges working together far more collaboratively than they have, within defined regions across Scotland. As a result, 2011 saw the launch of two formal consultations, Putting Learners and the Centre and a separate consultation specifically for colleges, to gather opinion and ideas about these proposals.
After considering all the responses to these consultations, we confirmed 12 college regions and began work with individual colleges and the Scottish Funding Council to put the necessary arrangements into place. West Lothian was later confirmed as a 13th region. This would result in a number of colleges merging or working in much closer collaboration to ensure provision is efficient, high quality, and tailored to local needs.
Key figures in each region, such as Henry McLeish in Glasgow and Ian McKay in Edinburgh, will lead regional planning alongside the colleges.
In May 2013, colleges in Ayrshire, Fife, Glasgow South and West regions sought approval from Scottish Ministers to proceed with their intention to become single institutions. This would be achieved by means of the formal closure of some colleges and the transfer of the property and rights of these colleges to 'host' colleges, by means of a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI). Since then, four newly merged colleges opened their doors on 1 August 2013: Ayrshire College, Fife College, Glasgow Clyde College and West College Scotland.
On 15 August 2013, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning approved a further four merger proposals from the following regions: Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire; Glasgow North and East; Lanarkshire; and Tayside and will subsequently lay the necessary Scottish Statutory Instruments in Parliament, during September, with the intention of the newly merged colleges operating from 1 November 2013