Colleges set for merger

The new Motherwell College prospectus is launched by (l-r) Blair Robertson, Tracy Cox, Reece Anderson and Lauren Macaulay
The new Motherwell College prospectus is launched by (l-r) Blair Robertson, Tracy Cox, Reece Anderson and Lauren Macaulay

MOTHERWELL College has launched its new prospectus despite the fact it may soon no longer exist in its current form.

In a bid to combat a cut in funding for further education facilities from the Scottish Government, Motherwell and Cumbernauld colleges have announced their intention to merge.

The two colleges have a long established working relationship and it is felt the merger is the best way to deliver qualification to over 20,000 students while maximising staffing levels.

A previous plan which would have seen Motherwell, Cumbernauld and South Lanarkshire colleges form the Lanarkshire Colleges Regional Federation to increase co-operation but remain separate institutions has been shelved.

Due processes are currently being put in place to ensure full consultation with stakeholders including learners and staff, and if the proposal is successful the new college will come into being in August.

Alex Muirhead, chairman of Motherwell College’s board of management, said: “Over the next few months, staff at Motherwell and Cumbernauld colleges will work together in order to progress this merger and ensure that all college stakeholders continue to be offered the best possible service.”

Keith Fulton, chairman of the board of management at Cumbernauld College, added: “Learners are at the centre of all we do and both organisations have a history of successful partnership working on a range of projects.

“We would anticipate that this will be further enhanced through the proposed merger.”

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland has been heavily critical of the real-terms 20 per cent cuts in further education funding and dismayed the colleges have had to go down this route.

He said: “Given the Scottish Government’s huge cuts in further education, and cabinet secretary Mike Russell’s backing for mergers, colleges are under a lot of pressure to go down this route, particularly with further massive cuts due next year.

“I will be seeking assurances that the merger will not dilute provision from Motherwell College, but regardless of the merger, the existing and future cuts are bound to have a detrimental impact on courses.

“College mergers are a way of papering over cracks caused by a short-sighted money-saving measure.”

Central Scotland list MSP Margaret Mitchell has backed the National Union of Students’ ‘Fund Scotland’s Future’ campaign against the cuts, but applauded the colleges for taking this step.

She said: “The colleges themselves are best placed to know the real affect of a cut in their budget so while it is less than ideal I am pleased they are taking this step in order to ensure they can continue to provide the best service possible in the circumstances.”

While the consultation is ongoing, Motherwell College is busy recruiting for next term, as it will need a new intake of students regardless of whether the merger takes place or not.

The prospectus was launched by the newly chosen ‘Faces of Motherwell College’ - Tracy Cox, Lauren Macaulay, Blair Robertson and Reece Anderson – who were chosen to represent the college in a public vote.

Marketing manager Lisa Parr said: “Our new prospectus captures the confidence and uniqueness of each of the students and their individual personalities.”