The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council has intervened for a second time to protect a teacher education course at Paisley University threatened by Government intake cuts, writes Olga Wojtas.
Michael Forsyth, Secretary of State for Scotland, has cut intakes to the 1996-97 secondary postgraduate certificate in education by 16 per cent, but John Sizer, SHEFC's chief executive, said that for the second year running the council had been concerned about the viability of the three-year-old Paisley course if a pro rata cut were made.
The formula which the funding council has applied to Scotland's four other secondary PGCE courses would have reduced Paisley's intake to 39, but the funding council has set it at 50, boosting national PGCE numbers to 810 rather than Mr Forsyth's total of 800.
But the increase has been offset by expected under-enrolment in music and technological education BEd courses. Professor Sizer said there had been a shortfall in these courses in recent years, and the funding council has therefore recommended intakes of 144, compared to Mr Forsyth's total of 180.
Funded student numbers for these two courses would initially be only 90 per cent of the total, Professor Sizer said, with the remaining 10 per cent funded when needed.
Until now, Stirling University has been the only Scottish institution to offer combined degree courses, in which students gain a teaching qualification while studying another discipline. But Mr Forsyth has now approved combined courses at St Andrews' College of Education and the Robert Gordon and Strathclyde Universities, increasing intakes by 60 to 175. Stirling retains the bulk of students with an intake of 115, while Strathclyde has 30, and RGU and St Andrew's each have 15.
The funding council's first quality assessments in teacher education, announced last summer, gave all courses highly satisfactory or satisfactory ratings. Professor Sizer said the council had opted not to use the distinction between the two ratings in determining intakes.