Ministry merger gets cool welcome

June 2, 1995

The heads of Scotland's higher education institutions have given a guarded welcome to the proposed merger of the Scottish Office education and industry departments.

The Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals called the announcement "important and dramatic", and gave its broad approval to the prospect of a closer relationship between education and training.

But it warned that education was concerned with wider issues, and said it was looking for reassurances that the merger would not have the effect of confusing education with training, nor that the Government was adopting an ultimately pragmatic or utilitarian view of education.

"Above all, we shall be seeking confirmation that these profound organisational changes are no more than just that - changes in the way in which the Scottish Office goes about its business - and that they do not pose any threat to the provision, diversity or quality of higher education in Scotland."

There was a less cautious approach from other higher and further education bodies. The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council backed the proposed reorganisation as reinforcing the important linkages of education and research with Scotland's future economic prospects.

Jack Shaw, SHEFC's chairman, said the council's recent corporate plan emphasised its commitment to promoting collaboration between higher education and industry and commerce. "This move will assist our efforts by strengthening such links at the highest levels," he said.

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