THE Educational Institute of Scotland has called for autonomous bodies to regulate student awards, teaching and learning, and quality assurance north of the border.
The institute says Scotland should have its own Institute of Learning and Teaching and Quality Assurance Agency, as well as retaining the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. These should collaborate closely with their counterparts elsewhere in the United Kingdom, but would be accountable to the Scottish parliament.
"We are not making a political point," said EIS president Ian McCalman. "It is a professional point as to how best to expedite the work of these bodies. They should not be branch offices."
The EIS broadly supports Dearing's recommendation that there should be an expansion of sub-degree courses in further education colleges, and no expansion of degree work. But it says the Scottish Office will have to consider the projects to set up universities in the Highlands and Islands and southwest Scotland, based on existing further education provision, neither of which "fits neatly into the Dearing scenario". The availability of local higher education is vital to widening access, it says.
The EIS backs separate further and higher education funding councils, but vetoes the proposal for them to share an administration and chief executive.
"The hidden agenda here must be the eventual amalgamation of the two councils. Since Scottish further education must not be swamped by higher education interests and must pursue its important non-higher education mission, we do not envisage such an amalgamation taking place in the near future."
The institute believes introducing tuition fees and scrapping grants will hamper access, and says the whole issue of student support should be reconsidered by a Scottish parliament.