College merger programme 'a failure', say lecturers

College students Image copyright Thinkstock

A college merger programme has been called "a failure" by lecturers.

A new survey has indicated they believe mergers of Scotland's colleges to create 20 so-called "regional supercolleges" have "largely failed to deliver".

The survey was commissioned by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teachers' and lecturers' union.

The Scottish government has said it is committed to building on the success achieved so far in the college sector.

The EIS study found almost 90% of college lecturers taking part did not believe the mergers had improved learning and teaching quality.

The survey, of nearly 1,000 lecturers, found:

  • 89% did not believe their merger had improved learning and teaching quality
  • 91% did not believe their merger had improved management of their college
  • 94% did not believe their merger had improved staff morale in the college
  • 86% did not believe their merged college better met the needs of the community
  • 81% indicated that their workload had increased following their college's merger

The online survey, carried out by the EIS Further Education Lecturers' Association, had a response rate of around 20% - about one in seven of all further education teaching staff.

Image caption EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said many of the benefits promised were yet to be delivered

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the survey "demonstrates that the many benefits that were promised as part of the mergers programme have not been delivered".

He said the "imagined benefits" of the mergers had "yet to become reality".

Mr Flanagan added: "While former members of senior management have enjoyed huge pay-offs and millions of pounds have been squirreled away into secretive Arms' Length Foundations, education provision has continued to be cut and staff continue to suffer a divisive postcode lottery on their terms and conditions."

Responding to the survey, a Scottish government spokesman said that there had been "huge progress".

He added: "Audit Scotland's 2015 report acknowledged that planning for mergers was generally good, that colleges managed the risks associated with staffing changes and that the changes to date have had minimal negative impact on students.

"Progress so far is largely due to the commitment and professionalism of the workforce across Scotland. Our priority is therefore to build on this, ensuring that colleges have robust plans for supporting and developing their staff."

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