College Merger


Last week, the inevitable happened. James Watt College was forced into a merger that we did not want.

Its renowned name will now disappear into the history books as it becomes part of the new West of Scotland “Super” College.

It’s a sad day for an institution with a proud history of providing a range of educational opportunities for the people of Inverclyde.

The forced mergers which were primarily driven by a £50 million cut to the college budget have been heralded by the Education Secretary Mike Russell as a momentous moment and an exciting time for students.

But no amount of spin can deflect from the adverse impact that these mergers will have.

Our college will lose its local identity and become a bit-part player in the decision making process.

Part-time learners who aspire to get their next job or to start a new career will find it more difficult to gain access locally.

Students from communities such as Inverclyde and indeed, from Mike Russell’s own constituency Argyll, will be forced to travel further and stump up the cost.

The support and choice available to students will be stretched. And those with special needs who rely on the college to assist with their inclusion within the community will also be hit.

We will not be blinded to these realities by the shiny new name plates and logos.

In the coming weeks and months I will do all I can to ensure that the views of part-time learners, students and staff are listened to, and that Mike Russell is held to account for the cuts he has made to the Further Education sector.