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Staff, students, parents, unions and businesses are being given their say on how best to deliver college education across Scotland.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council have yesterday issued a consultation paper with specific proposals on planning, funding and delivering college learning on a regional basis. The paper takes into account some of the views of college leaders as expressed in a series of engagement events held in the last few weeks. It now invites discussion with all interested parties over the next three months.
It builds on the Scottish Government's proposals to reform post-16 education published in September in 'Putting Learners in the Centre.'
Education Secretary Michael Russell said:
"The intentions of our post-16 reform agenda are very clear: to ensure education and training is more sharply aligned with learners' and employers' needs. We must do everything that we can to help people get a job, keep a job and develop their career. But we cannot deliver on our ambitions by standing still. We need a new approach.
"Scotland's colleges are a vital part of our education system and a central focus of the post-16 agenda. The sector has unquestionably served us well. However, the time is now right to work together and build a sustainable sector that will deliver for learners and the economy in the medium and long-term.
"Investment in the college sector should be focused on the needs of a region, while maintaining local access. Regionalisation offers many opportunities: it can strengthen the role and influence of colleges in local communities, help promote more coherent planning and delivery and ensure sustainable funding.
"We, alongside the Scottish Funding Council, have been talking closely with the sector and other partners over the last few weeks. Engagement will only increase as we move forward with reform.
"I look forward to hearing the views of the sector and beyond."
The Chair of the Scottish Funding Council, John McClelland said:
"We are hoping for the widest possible response to this important consultation which will help to shape learning for the next generation of college students.
"Our ambition is for a new approach that better serves Scotland by matching and continuing to match changing local, regional and national needs."