New Campus Glasgow takes a step forward

15 Feb 2010

by Andrew Denholm, The Herald

It will have a population the size of Kilmarnock, house an art gallery, bakery, television studio and beauty salon - and, at a cost of up to £300 million, will be the biggest and most expensive project of its kind in Europe.

After more than a decade of false starts, Glasgow's new supercollege is finally becoming a reality and is taking shape on the architect's drawing board.

Today, The Herald can reveal what the New Campus Glasgow project will look like when it opens in 2014. In his first interview since taking up the post of principal of the new college, Paul Little said it was his ambition that the new institution would not just look good but would transform the quality of further education in Glasgow.

However, Mr Little, the current principal of Glasgow's Central College, also accepts the project faces considerable challenges. First of these is the merger of three existing Glasgow colleges - Metropolitan, Central and Nautical - to form the new institution, a process that has been beset with difficulties, including the departure from merger talks by Stow College.

In tandem is the development of a wide-ranging curriculum review, which will look at what is currently taught across the three institutions, resolve issues of duplication and provide a template for new subject clusters.

As the new curriculum takes shape, architects and builders will finalise plans for the new buildings, which will be located at two sites in the city centre - in Cathedral Street and by the Clyde. All of this has to be delivered on time and within budget.

Mr Little said his experience as chief executive of Southern Regional College, in Northern Ireland, which was formed from a merger of six smaller colleges, will stand him in good stead.

Although no final decisions have been taken, the subjects under consideration include business and management, information technology, sports, food and tourism, technology, hospitality, construction, art and design, engineering, maritime, media and production, community learning, hair and beauty and social care and health.

However, Mr Little is also adamant that, in order to deliver on the project's potential, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has to ensure all the promised support is forthcoming.

Last year the SFC called for a funding review, to see if the project could be delivered for less than the £300m originally earmarked. "I am under no illusion that we will have to fight for every penny but I will be hopeful that the administration has said on the record that this will be a £300m investment to Glasgow," said Mr Little.

He also said the "door was still open" to allow Stow College, which pulled out last year amid concerns about the project's viability and size, to rejoin.

One of the concerns raised by Stow was the possibility of job losses.

"There may be some staff who feel that, as the colleges merge, they no longer want to be a part of the larger institution, but we are working on the assumption there will be up to 2000 staff and I don't foresee compulsory redundancies," said Mr Little

He accepted, however, there may be battles over the harmonisation of terms and conditions. "This could be a source of tension and it requires compromise on all sides," he said.

"We have to balance what is desirable with what is affordable and I need everyone at the negotiating table to realise that."

Grand designs

  • New Campus Glasgow is a project to merge three city centre colleges on a purpose-built new campus.
  • The new college, which has yet to be named, will be one of the biggest in Europe with about 2000 staff and 50,000 students.
  • New Campus Glasgow, the company driving the project, last year appointed architecture firm Atkins, which was responsible for the landmark Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald and Times Group.

  • Artist's impression, supplied by New Glasgow Campus

Web links (opens in a new window)
Project details
  • Riverside Campus - New Campus Glasgow