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Impact and success of the programme of college mergers in Scotland

College students

22 Aug 2016

Today the Scottish Funding Council has published an overarching report on the impact of the college merger programme. John Kemp, Interim Chief Executive, of the Scottish Funding Council said:

“This report summarises an unprecedented programme of mergers. It shows that Scotland's colleges have successfully transformed the landscape for colleges in Scotland, creating something that will be better for students and employers.

The college merger programme was one of the most ambitious in Scotland in recent years and therefore it was important that we evaluated it fully. Along with the individual evaluations which we have published separately, this report provides that full assessment. There is much to celebrate and reflect on in this report, which we are taking into account in our work going forward. I am especially pleased with the evidence of positive impacts on the student experience, such as students at Glasgow Kelvin College highlighting the potential for progression in some subject areas that would not have been available previously”.

The report covers the merger programme between 2012 and 2013 and evaluates the success in delivering the intended benefits and outcomes for students and other key stakeholders. The evidence reviewed confirms that:

  • The merger programme in Scotland has led to the formation of colleges which are more resilient and sustainable for the future, with a focus on achieving efficient and effective business services while continuing to develop and support the staff who are central to this success.
  • Through changes to such a substantial proportion of the sector, the mergers have created a landscape better suited to the delivery of skills, engagement with employers and universities, better able to implement the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) initiative and further improve learner journeys.
  • The larger colleges created are working well and are confident and ambitious with a clear focus on putting the learner at the centre, where the priority is the learning and teaching and the achievements of students in study and in work.
  • The evidence that we have from the programme of evaluations is consistent and shows that efficiencies and benefits of scale are being realised across all of the merged colleges. The merger costs are reported as totaling £69.6 million, with ongoing savings totalling £52.2 million each year. It therefore took less than a year and a half for the original costs to be covered by the savings.