Education and Culture Committee
took evidence on the
Post-16 Education Bill
from Scottish government officials on 15 January 2013.
Michael Cross, the deputy director of the colleges and adult learning division of the Scottish government, detailed the six key areas of the bill:
1. College regionalisation, the central element of the bill, which Mr Cross believed would provide more diversity.
2. University governance
3. Widening access to higher education
4. Review of fundable further and higher education
5. Tuition fees
6. Data sharing
Announcing the details of the Post-16 Education Bill last November, Education Secretary Mike Russell said the proposed college mergers in Scotland would save the sector £50m each year.
However, one education union said it had "grave concerns" about the plan.
The University and College Union said powers in the draft legislation could give ministers too much control.
The government insisted that the bill would improve how colleges are run and ensure that courses are "suited to employers' needs".
Mr Russell said: "This bill recognises the severe financial constraints we have in Scotland without full fiscal autonomy while also delivering in a time of severe cuts to our budget.
"It prioritises what matters most to the people of Scotland - the best deal for young people and the economy in terms of post-16 education."
The government has previously come under criticism from opposition parties over its handling of the further education sector and college regionalisation.
The committee also quizzed Col Baird; Gavin Gray; Ailsa Heine; Danielle Hennessy and Tracey Slaven from the Scottish Government.