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Regional Tertiary Pathfinders

SFC's Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability highlighted the key role of institutions in ensuring learners are able to meet the challenges and opportunities of a changing world.

Working in partnership with local partners, we are developing two Regional Tertiary Pathfinders in the North-east and South of Scotland. By considering provision in both regions, the Pathfinders represent a revised approach to strategic planning and skills alignment.

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The Pathfinders are being designed to achieve:

  • Alignment of provision against societal and employer needs.
  • Enhanced coherence and sustainability across provision.
  • Simpler pathways and improved outcomes for learners.

This work is also a key action of the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).

Pathfinders work areas

The Pathfinders consist of several connected work areas:

Data and Analysis

Developing a robust understanding of current skills provision in both regions, identifying unmet demand, and reviewing available data and other evidence.

Regional Priorities

Collaborative pilots in both regions are building on the strong foundations of existing partnerships to assess demand and secure skills provision that balances the needs of students, employers, and their local economy and society.

Process Analysis

Engaging with institutions to consider how provision is planned, who is involved, and how it impacts the learner journey.

Reflections and Recommendations

Using the insights and learnings from these pilots to share reflections and recommendations for the wider education and skills system.


National Advisory Board

The Pathfinders National Advisory Board consists of experts from across tertiary education, academic and civil society, key employers, and beyond. Drawing on their experience in Scotland and elsewhere, they will play a key role in shaping our work as it progresses. Its members are:

  • Karen Watt (Chair) - Chief Executive, Scottish Funding Council.
  • Robin Ashton - Vice Principal - Curriculum and Quality Enhancement, Glasgow Kelvin College.
  • Chris Brodie - Director of Regional Skills Planning, Skills Development Scotland.
  • Gillian Doherty - Chief Commercial Officer, University of Strathclyde.
  • Kirsty Evans - Associate Director, UK Education and Skills Funding Agency.
  • Linda Hanna - Chair, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
  • Professor Colm Harmon - personal Chair in Applied Economics & Vice-Principal Students, University of Edinburgh.
  • Mhairi Harrington OBE - Scottish Funding Council Board member.
  • Professor Ewart Keep - Chair in Education, Training and Skills at the Department of Education, Oxford University, and Scottish Funding Council Board member.
  • Gavin Lee - Director of Strategic Planning, University of the West of Scotland.
  • Gerry Lyons - Head of Service, Glasgow City Council, ADES.
  • Jane Martin - Managing Director of Innovation and Investment, Scottish Enterprise.
  • Professor Ron McQuaid - Professor of Work and Employment, University of Stirling.
  • Professor Chris Millward - Professor of Education Practice, University of Birmingham.
  • Sara Rae - Director Business & Enterprise, West College Scotland.
  • Dr Melanie Smith - Assistant Principal - Academic and Research, University of the Highlands and Islands.

Further information

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the Pathfinders, we would love to hear from you. You can contact the team at Pathfinders@sfc.ac.uk.

SFC Pathfinders contacts are:

  • Claire McPherson, Deputy Director of Policy.
  • Seamus Spencer, Assistant Director.
  • Linda McLeod, Assistant Director.
  • Aoife Keenan, Assistant Director.
  • Daniel Proudfoot, Senior Policy Analysis Officer.
  • Jessica Armstrong, Stakeholder Engagement.
  • Morven Pritchard, Project Governance Officer.