Colleges are “not immune from financial pressures” and must show flexibility, Scotlands Minister for Learning and Skills Dr Alasdair Allan has said.
Speaking at a conference in Edinburgh, he noted that colleges are critical for providing learners of all ages with the skills they require for the workplace.
However, Dr Allan argued that given the tough economic climate, colleges must be willing to adapt.
“However, like every other area in these very difficult economic times, colleges are having to reposition themselves, in some cases dramatically so, and having to look at how they can make significant efficiencies,” he explained.
“Two of the most significant beacons of this type of approach in the last 12 months have been the creation of City of Glasgow College – Scotlands biggest – and, in the east, the discussions taking place on the merger of Stevenson and Jewel and Esk Colleges. While quality of education must always be what counts, mergers often result in the better use of resources.”
Although the government has “no place” making operational decisions at individual institutions, it does have a responsibility to ensure that institutions use their discretion in a way that “ensures survival in hard times, he added.
Glasgows Nautical, Central and Metropolitan Colleges became the City of Glasgow College last year, making it the first ever merger of three colleges.
Previous college mergers have only involved two institutions and resulted in the creation of Glasgow Metropolitan College (2004), Forth Valley College (2005) and the Adam Smith College, Fife (2005).