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Scotland’s colleges and universities are already collaborating, including informal relationships, and sharing best practice. Closer collaboration could include:

The co-development and sharing of infrastructure and services.

Greater alignment of courses and progression pathways.

A co-funded staff member with specialist experience that can support both/multiple institutions.

Making best use of estates.

Shared access to staff CPD opportunities.

Working collaboratively supports the expansion of provision, builds new and diverse curriculum pathways, improves operational effectiveness, supports staff development, and can help provide better outcomes for students.

We anticipate that institutions will use their regular engagement with their Outcome Manager to keep SFC informed of opportunities and developments of any collaborative activities. SFC may be able to provide additional expertise to support institutional collaborative opportunities, as well as share best practice at a sector level.

Case studies

UWS and Dumfries and Galloway

The partnership between UWS and D&G is more than just about proximity; the sharing of a wide range of services and facilities, including library, catering and sports and wellbeing facilities, is supported by longer-term strategic planning.   Under the partnership, the College and University are working with schools across the region – through Dumfries and Galloway Council – to develop new degree pathways and routes into these degree programmes. This approach ensures the partners are not competing in limited markets whilst developing programmes that are aligned with current and future regional skill needs – increasing the choice to learners at the same time.

More recently, UWS has adapted space in the Dumfries and Galloway College building, enabling the creation of a contemporary new UWS campus; combining flexible, technology-rich learning facilities with highly specialised technical spaces to support nursing education. The state-of-the-art campus is designed to address specific skill gaps in the local healthcare sector, ensuring the co-located campus provides significant benefits to the wider region in addition to students and staff.  This colocation will underpin future development between the partners and the Scottish Funding Council’s support has been invaluable in enabling the development to date.

Newbattle Abbey College and Borders College

The Newbattle Abbey College Perspective

Dr Kirsty Adamson, Depute Principal and Director of Academic Development

As one of Scotland’s smallest colleges, Newbattle Abbey has not previously had a Management Information Service (MIS). Prior to this partnership, all student data, from the point of application through to the FES returns, was handled manually. This was both labor-intensive and prone to human error. Through the collaborative project, Borders College has facilitated the shared Management Information Service, ProSolution.

This partnership has transformed the student administration process at Newbattle Abbey, ensuring high-quality data tracking and rapid analysis. By integrating the new MIS, student applications, enrollment, timetabling, registration, and data analysis are now efficiently managed. This enhanced data management system provides accurate and up-to-date information, empowering data-informed decision-making.

The collaborative project between the two colleges has not only enhanced operational efficiency but also directly benefited the students. The MIS allows for effective filtering of applications, enabling targeted communication with specific groups of students. This personalised approach ensures students receive timely and relevant information, improving engagement and support throughout their educational journey.

The successful implementation of the shared service between the two colleges has fostered a positive working relationship. The MIS team at Borders College has demonstrated patience, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to finding solutions to any challenges encountered along the way.

This collaborative approach has opened up meaningful conversations between the colleges, enabling a broader exploration of the student journey. As a result, decisions and processes have been thoroughly tested, leading to continuous improvement and an enriched experience for both staff and students.

The Borders College Perspective

Joanne George, Director of MIS and e-learning

This has been an equally rewarding experience of partnership working from a Borders College perspective.

Having recently streamlined and enhanced our MIS service through a significant Digital Transformation Programme, we welcomed the opportunity to share this service with our colleagues at Newbattle Abbey College and enable them to benefit from our new and improved functionality. The Borders College MIS team have also hugely benefited from the collaboration and have enjoyed exploring different approaches with the Newbattle Abbey College team, which has resulted in the sharing good practice both ways.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) have enjoyed a longstanding partnership and have collaborated on academic conferences and other artistic and scholarly pursuits.

For over twenty years, traditional music students at RCS have undertaken annual residencies at SMO. This even continued in 2021 during COVID restrictions, with a special online residency where RCS students undertook Gaelic classes and attended workshops focused on Gaelic music and culture, including Gaelic song classes. The highlight was a collaborative, online concert with 17 students from the RCS and SMO traditional music programmes.

The college also offer bespoke short courses in collaboration with RCS, such as Acting: Gaelic Drama which is based at SMO with workshops from RCS tutors.

Robert Gordon University and North East Scotland College

Through the partnership between RGU and NESCol, an articulation pathway has carved a successful journey to a degree education for Morgan Davidson who enrolled in university in third year after completing an HND at NESCol. Having grown up in a deprived area and a low-income family, Morgan describes her astonishment, disbelief and pride at being awarded a 2.1 (Hons) Degree in Law. Morgan said:

“The traditional way of going to university was to obtain grades at secondary school. The route I followed was a relatively fresh concept to me in that you could leave secondary and complete a two-year HND at college, allowing you to gain access to a degree in third year. This was an absolute game-changer.

“Some might think that by not having suitable grades for university when you leave school, you’re a bit of a failure and that it would be difficult to achieve and progress. Now, those attitudes have completely changed.

“I believe my HND was a great stepping stone to support my personal and academic growth. It has increased my wealth of knowledge, understanding, skills and personality traits, but at my own pace.

“It has been small steps at a time, but that’s exactly what I needed, even if I didn’t know it at the time. My unintentional study path has allowed me to achieve and become the person I am today.”

Upon completing her degree, she hopes to apply for her diploma at RGU, and once she’s achieved this, wants to pursue a career as a lawyer. She is currently working at Pinsent Masons Law Firm in Aberdeen to support herself through her studies and to continue progressing her learning and understanding in a professional legal environment.

SFC Strategic Plan 2022-27

Building a connected, agile, sustainable tertiary education and research system for Scotland.

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