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Decision in principle to merge or federate

We strongly urge colleges that intend to merge or federate to take a clear 'in principle' decision early in the process rather than continue to explore options for too lengthy a period.


By doing so the colleges will be giving a clear signal to staff, students and other stakeholders of the direction they are seeking to go in. In the past, public funds have been invested in the exploration of proposed mergers, only to see one or more partners walk away from the proposal at a late stage in the process and public funds already invested in the process were irrecoverable.

A decision in principle should be made at an early stage, after which colleges would be held responsible for the use of any public funds invested in preparation for merger (or federation). If any partner walked away without the support of strong evidence, such as unforeseen financial problems arising from an external due diligence process, a claw back arrangement would be put into force by SFC.

In current circumstances, the decision in principle will be considered to be the point at which transformation or strategic funds are agreed to support merger or federation. SFC will consider whether a claw back is required from any institution(s) where there is no clear evidence for a change of decision.


This guidance was developed in 2012 and will be reviewed.

Your feedback is important so let us know where you have used it or how it can be improved by contacting Linda McLeod, email: