More cooperation for colleges

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Motherwell College is set to join forces with two other Lanarkshire colleges in a bid to offset next year’s 20 per cent cut in its funding from the Scottish Government.

A pledge of £15 million was recently made by the Government to aid college restructuring to combat the very budget cuts in further education that the Government themselves previously announced.

As a result Motherwell, Cumbernauld and South Lanarkshire colleges have announced plans to form the Lanarkshire Colleges Regional Federation.

Each college will remain as separate institutions with their own Boards of Management and management teams, however will work closer to better co-ordinate further education in Lanarkshire.

Their main task in this will be to cut out duplication of staff and courses across the three facilities as each has its own particular specialist facilities and provision which can be exploited.

Motherwell College principal Hugh Logan and board of management chairman Alex Muirhead have signed a joint statement put out by the three colleges.

It reads: “We welcome and support the move towards funding for the region defined as Lanarkshire which we hope will address the long-standing historical underfunding of this area.

“This will better allow all three colleges to address the hopes and aspirations of their students.

“We also welcome the moves to plan regionally but deliver locally and we strongly support the perspective that college courses should provide students with skills that they need to get a job, keep a job or get a better job.

“All three colleges have a strong focus on student achievement and are delighted to further develop, in partnership with the Scottish Funding Council, a robust outcome-focused model.

“In order to deliver the best possible service to the communities served by Cumbernauld, Motherwell and South Lanarkshire colleges, we are committed to exploring forming a federation of colleges to provide a structured approach to regionalisation.”

More details about the proposals are set to be included in a paper being submitted to the Scottish Funding Council in late February 2012.

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland welcomed greater cooperation and coordination between Lanarkshire colleges, but remains concerned about the impact of next year’s budget cut.

He said: “The budget reductions are so large that they cannot be achieved without a major impact on courses and staff and student numbers.

“The pressure on colleges to move beyond cooperation and towards merger will remain. This is highlighted by the recent announcement of £15m to fund restructuring – including redundancy costs.

“I will continue to campaign against these cuts, and hope that the Lanarkshire Federation of Colleges will be active in lobbying against them.”