NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Salmond backs university facility sharing

Alex Salmond has said universities should consider sharing facilities to help save money and improve services.

Responding to a question on university mergers during First Minister Questions, Mr Salmond said institutions could become even more efficient.

He highlighted planned talks between Aberdeen's two universities to discuss further facility sharing, describing them as a "light in the north".

He repeatedly insisted no colleges or universities would be forced to merge.

He said the discussions between the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University would enable two distinct, independent institutes to run their universities in "an even more efficient manner".

'Merger by fax'

Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservatives, had been asking about the future of Abertay and Dundee universities.

She had raised the issue referring to the "merger by fax" whereby the two institutes were given six weeks to respond to a proposal from the Scottish Funding Council that they merge.

During his response, Mr Salmond referred to the Aberdeen meeting and said there were ways that universities could work more closely together.

"There does appear to be a light in the north that many institutions could look at," he said.

The principal of Robert Gordon University later confirmed that they would be discussing sharing services with neighbouring University of Aberdeen.

An Aberdeen University spokesman added: "We continue to have ongoing discussions with our colleagues at RGU about opportunities to share support services and other efficiency measures and we will continue to do so.

"This is not about merging the organisations, but about working in partnership wherever possible to help us direct maximum investment into the quality of the experience we provide for our students."

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