Education Secretary Michael Russell has hinted at potential changes in the governance structures forScotland’s College sector ahead of detailed policy being laid before parliament next week.
Delivering the keynote address at the annual Scotland’ Colleges conference, organised by Holyrood Events, Russell said there would be a changed and reduced role for college boards in the new regional structure for the sector, with funding channelled through regional boards.
Answering a series of questions after his speech from John Russell, Chair of Scotland’s Colleges’ Chair’s Congress, Russell added that there would be no duplication of governance structures in single college regions, with the regional board operating alone.
Earlier, the Cabinet Secretary told the conference that good progress was being made on the government’s regionalisation drive, with all ofScotland’s 13 new further education regions showing a “clear direction of travel”. Russell added that he expected all 13 regional outcome agreements to be drawn up by the end of this month.
Referring to a protest yesterday by college staff outside the Scottish Parliament organised by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union, Russell opened his speech praising the work being done in further education in the face of rapid change, saying: “I was told, ‘You don’t know what it’s like on the front line in colleges’. And I don’t. I’ve not been on the frontline – you have.”
Russell put responsibility for the pace of reform being undertaken on Scotland’s constitutional situation, saying that the Scottish Government’s “unnatural” budgeting arrangements, and the need to adapt to reductions in public spending across the UK, meant that changes to further education couldn’t be delayed or drawn out.
Highlighting the fact that seven colleges are actively pursuing mergers, Russell reiterated his stance that he would not force institutions to come together, despite the fact that his preference – and that of the Griggs report into college governance – was for single college regions.
Russell is due to give full update on the Scottish Government’s reforms to post-16 education, in which the governance arrangements under the regionalisation programme will be detailed, to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 28 June.