One of the UK’s best performing educational establishments, City of Glasgow College marks its tenth anniversary this year – but Principal Paul Little, far from resting upon his laurels, is confident of helping lead  economic recovery over the next 10 years and beyond


IN November 2010, a year dominated by earthquakes and ash cloud, a quiet revolution was taking place in Glasgow. Scotland’s first ‘super college’ came into being and a next generation, tertiary institution was created. 

It continued a strong legacy of college provision in the centre of Scotland’s largest city. 
City of Glasgow College founding Principal Paul Little says that the £228 million state-of-the-art twin campus, which brought together four specialist colleges across nautical, commerce, building & printing, and culinary & hospitality, was a trailblazer merger strengthening the tertiary landscape dramatically. 

The Herald:

“Few would now recognise the college sector from ten years ago. The college/university divide has never been more blurred. 
“For example, ninety per cent of the growth in Scottish higher education over the past ten years has been through colleges. 

“We now have a much more dynamic ecosystem of colleges across Scotland, all more visible and, increasingly, more valued by our politicians, employers and civic communities.

“Our vision was of a supersized college, operating at scale, serving individual learners and multiple economic sectors alike, preparing a talent pipeline of technical and professional graduates annually, and fuelling economic growth.” 

That became a reality in 2015 with the First Minister’s official opening of the Riverside Campus on the banks of the Clyde and a year later, with a royal seal of approval for City Campus in the heart of Glasgow. 

The College is also due to publish a study by the Fraser of Allander Institute which demonstrates its contribution to the Scottish economy of several billion pounds. 

“I’m even prouder of the thousands of students who gain nationally recognised qualifications each year with us and go on to flourish in some 231 industries. 

“We now train almost 50 percent of the UK’s Merchant Navy Officers and we collaborate with the top 20 shipping companies

“As we mark our 10th anniversary, City of Glasgow College is one of the top-performing college across the UK for technological and vocational provision across a vast network of industry partners. 

“The College improves Glasgow’s wellbeing, playing a vital role in supporting people from all backgrounds to fulfil their economic potential.”
Principal Little says that shift has required determination and agility by his staff team during extreme times of change to keep focus on a shared vision:

“Our more efficient higher education curriculum portfolio, our front-line role in social mobility make a real difference to learners. We are now the destination of choice for so many as more and more students see the value of studying at our college translating directly in to a job. 

“Moreover, it was inspiring to see Team City colleagues helping our communities and colleges respond to Covid-19 as the true civic anchors they are. 

“I very much support the recent call south of the border for a ‘revolution in further education’. 

“Our students don’t care if their learning is classed as further education or higher education. 

“They are primarily interested in the access, the quality outcomes, employability and job opportunities afforded.”

Colleges are certainly evolving and fast. And, despite the damage wrought by Coronavirus, Principal Little remains optimistic for the future of college education. 

“I am very proud of my team and have no doubt City of Glasgow College will lead the recovery in the next 10 years. 

“We will drive social and economic revival through upskilling/reskilling, and an offer to employers that is tailored to their priorities. And we shall do so supported by a vibrant and ambitious policy environment that we helped create. We published the Cumberford-Little report this February. 

“In doing so, we established a set of arguments that have subsequently been endorsed and supplemented by the UK’s Independent Commission on the College of the Future. 

“And by an influential review from the SFC. 

“We will also support the Government’s ambition to rebuild green, leading the transition to net zero carbon, playing our part as Glasgow hosts COP 26.

“And of course, we shall do that in our unique Team City approach which has been so successful, and rewarding, in the past decade: through performance and excellence that Let’s Learning Flourish.”