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Questions must be asked about college merger

In April 2008 a senior civil servant made a presentation to the board of governors of Stranmillis University College.

His financial projections showed that Stranmillis would be non-viable in the near future, based on predicted reductions in teacher training places allied to a new funding model based on student numbers.

As a result, the governors declared that merger with Queen's University was the only way forward.

The annual report of Stranmillis for the year ending July 2010 shows a sumptuous surplus of £870,458, and 2011 is looking good too.

So was the apocalyptic presentation designed to deter the governors (or anyone else) from asking 'is this the only option?' and indeed, 'is this the best option for teacher training, education and society?'

Once the charade of the public consultation (announced this week) on the 'discontinuance' of Stranmillis is over, it is the duty of the Assembly, as the elected overseers of seemingly unaccountable civil servants, to ensure that these questions are answered comprehensively before handing over a multi-million-pound public asset to an autonomous institution.

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