Three colleges in Lanarkshire have begun taking steps toward merging services by August .
Cumbernauld, Motherwell and Coatbridge colleges have launched a public consultation regarding plans to create a new institution for Lanarkshire, combining all of their resources.The proposed merger is part of a national shake-up of college education and is one of 12 college regions to be created in Scotland.
Robin Parker, president of student union NUS Scotland, said: “It’s encouraging that these colleges are consulting with students and staff ahead of their planned summer merger.
“However, it’s extremely important that this consultation not be just a tick-box exercise, but one that actually seeks the views of a range of students and incorporates those views to make the new college much more responsive to students’ needs.
“It’s crucial that when the merger process is finished that local access, student places and teaching quality are protected.
“We must also see the student voice at the new college strengthened which can be accomplished by providing the students’ association the resources it needs to best represent its members.
“If this merger is to deliver positive results for students in the west of Scotland, students must be involved every step of the way to ensure the focus remains on improving education quality.”
The Scottish Government expects that the restructures will save Scotland’s colleges around £50m per year and avoid duplication of services.
Cumbernauld, Motherwell and Coatbridge colleges are now running a consultation until March 22 where they will speak to staff, students and stakeholders.Michael Russell, Scottish Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, welcomed the step towards a Lanarkshire college.
He said: “I warmly welcome the colleges’ commitments to better align their services with the needs of both learners and employers in the region.
“It is important that any merger is informed by the communities across the region and that they are involved in this process.“I would encourage all those with a stake in this important discussion to take advantage of the consultation to express their views.”