The Scottish Office has failed to produce a coherent plan in its green paper on lifelong learning, the Association of University Teachers Scotland has said.
In its response to Opportunity Scotland, the AUTS applauds the government's emphasis on broadening access for all Scots. "However, this paper seems to represent a drawing-together of strands of initiatives announced over the past 18 months rather than a coherent plan for the future of tertiary education," the AUTS says.
"The first question to be asked is where will it lead? It does not seem to form the basis for a bill, and most of the initiatives included in the paper are either in place or being implemented."
The AUTS urges the Scottish Office to draw on higher education expertise in developing the National Grid for Learning, given the sector's experience in setting up the Joint Academic Network and Scotland's pioneering metropolitan area networks. "The most important aspect of such systems is the content and not the delivery method," it warns.
The AUTS supports more students taking a three-year ordinary degree rather than a four-year honours degree so long as they are not forced into this purely for financial reasons.
But it says the traditional ordinary degree, which has declined in popularity, had an academic core leading to a "well-rounded" qualification. New modular general degrees could lead to a "pick-and-mix" approach that results in "an incoherent qualification of dubious standard". If ordinary degrees are to become more prevalent, the programmes need to be thought out carefully, perhaps through designated degrees made up predominantly of modules in a specific subject.