Reforming Scottish post-16 education
Yesterday the Scottish government launched a pre-legislative paper on post-16 education, including skills training, further education and higher education. The document, Putting Learners at the Centre: Delivering our Ambitions for post-16 Education, looks at a number of strategic and operational aspects of education, asks some questions and suggests some conclusions.
One thing that emerges from the paper is that the Scottish government is intending to legislate in 2012 to secure educational reform. The following are the issues the government believes will require legislation (in addition to others that may or may not require legal reforms).
• a new duty on widening access to higher education;
• a new duty on Scottish Ministers and the SFC periodically to review
the number and pattern of fundable bodies (that is, colleges and
universities); and new Ministerial powers requiring governing
bodies of fundable bodies to work with the SFC to respond to any
recommendations made by the Council;
• a cap on the fees institutions can charge to students from elsewhere in the UK.
The paper sets out ambitious and innovative plans for education reform, and there are many issues emerging that are of direct interest to universities. I shall be looking at some of these over the coming days. But running through the proposals is a concern about the responsiveness of colleges and universities to certain national needs. On the other hand, the government does acknowledge the impact and importance of university autonomy.
The paper asks a number of questions about education at these levels, and invites comments and representations. It is to be hoped that this invitation is followed up.