We need a simpler system for colleges

Craig Thomson, principal of Adam Smith College
Craig Thomson, principal of Adam Smith College
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MAJOR CHANGES may be ahead in the college sector, but one thing which will remain the same is Adam Smith College’s commitment to Fife.

That’s the message from the college principal.

Craig Thomson was speaking to the Press this week following the Scottish Government’s recent announcements on college reform and regionalisation through their pre-legislative paper ‘Putting Learners at the Centre: Delivering our Ambition for Post-16 Education’.

In its response to the consultation, Adam Smith College has committed fully to the regional agenda and to working with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council to help shape and implement the reforms.

Dr Thomson said change to the college sector is “something we think is overdue”.

He said: “There are some challenges in implementing the reform agenda in view of the cuts agenda, but we welcome reform and recognise the need for more efficiency.

“We’re an efficient college but the cuts being vested on colleges are really severe.

Commitment

“There’s a lot around reform we welcome - trying to simplify the system; putting things on a more strategic footing and a regional structure in Fife.

“We welcome the commitment to more straightforward learner pathways.

“But we have concerns around the focus of change falling on young people up to the age of 25.

“Our values are we are open to all and we think that’s really important for Fife - people who want to retrain; people out of work looking to go back into education, as a particular vehicle it is one of the ways to build the future of Fife and that should be open to all.”

The principal said sufficient time is required to “craft the correct solution for Fife” and although pace is welcome, haste is likely to prove counter productive.

“Finding the right solution for Fife, that’s critical,” he continued.

“There are different needs and these are important - what individuals need; what the Fife economy needs and what communities in Fife need.”

Dr Thomson said the college has stressed the importance of a wider, richer debate encompassing the development of tertiary provision and the critical role of colleges in Higher Education in Scotland.

Priority

But amid the anticipated changes, he said Adam Smith College’s main priority will continue to be its students.

“There will be lots of change that will make things more efficient and effective, but there will be lots of stability as well, “ he added.

“We will still be teaching great courses and giving people excellent opportunities in the college sector in Fife.”