College ethos 'will survive merger'
The ethos and traditions of Stranmillis teacher training college will be continued after a merger with Queens University, the minister overseeing the plan has said.
Danny Kennedy launched a consultation on the proposed merger at the Assembly and noted the college's links with Controlled Sector schools.
He told members those traditions would be protected and he also assured MLAs he did not foresee any negative impact on St Mary's teacher training college, linked to the Catholic Maintained sector.
Mr Kennedy said Stranmillis was burdened by the need to find £9 million from within its current resources to upgrade its estate, while the college received less than £6 million per year from his Department of Employment and Learning.
But some MLAs expressed concerns that the change may impact on the traditions at Stranmillis University College.
The minister said: "Legislation is not normally required to effect the merger of two independent Higher Education Institutions.
"However, to transfer the property, rights and liabilities of the Governing Body of Stranmillis to Queen's requires that the college be formally discontinued, by sub-ordinate legislation, subject to affirmative resolution of this Assembly."
On the concerns over the college's traditional ethos and the protection of its estate, he added: "I, and my predecessor, have made it clear that we shared these concerns, particularly around its ethos, and would not support any merger unless the newly merged entity can, through appropriate legislation, guarantee respect for the ethos of the Controlled Sector and the College."
Mr Kennedy said: "This has been discussed in some detail with Stranmillis, Queen's and the Transferor Representatives' Council and legal advice has been sought.
"The resulting proposal is to provide for relevant key stakeholders, including the Transferors and the wider Controlled Sector, to have a direct advisory role in the proposed Stranmillis School of Education at Queen's."