Managing the shift from an independent higher educational institution
to a University Faculty is the job of Acting Dean Cathy Macaslan. She
admits that it may be seen as a daunting prospect, but is looking forward
to achieving a period of stability and progress.
"This will be the second merger for the Northern College since Aberdeen
College of education merged with Dundee College of Education 15 years
ago. In that time, there has been a history of co-operation, dialogue
and very hard work on the part of all those concerned," she said.
"The past 15 years has been a very dynamic period and we have learned
how to negotiate and move forward whilst solving complex problems. We
have become very good at that, so this merger will really be an opportunity
for us at last to 'embed' as it were and grow with the University."
Ms Macaslan believes her new role, which will involve the incorporation
and strategic development of the Faculty, will give her the opportunity
to enhance the profile of teacher education within the University and
more importantly the wider community.
The Faculty enjoys a broad portfolio of degree programmes with an international
reputation with the full-time B.Ed (Hons) Primary, B.Ed (Hons) Music and
the Postgraduate Certificates in both Primary and Secondary Education.
It also supports teachers and other professionals with a wide range of
undergraduate and postgraduate programmes delivered by distance learning.
The Faculty attracts students from England, Ireland and increasingly,
mainland Europe. The traditional postgraduate markets outwith Scotland
are North America and Canada, with many students also coming from Africa
to participate in their CPD Programmes. This neatly dovetails into the
University's global strategy, which has seen an expansion of international
However, one of the main benefits of the merger, according to Ms Macaslan,
is the fact that student teachers will now learn alongside other professionals,
such as lawyers and doctors.
"At the moment, our students can be physically isolated from other
students, but this merger will allow them to benefit from a wider range
of opportunities on offer from a much larger institution," she said.
"For example, the evolving agenda of schools is the integration of
services for children and families around schools, and teachers are now
expected to work with social workers, health professionals and community
workers. This policy of inter-professional collaboration can only be enhanced
by cross-disciplinary access to students and researchers of other professions.
"The fact that the University has a strong portfolio of Government-related
research will help to inform our thinking on the development of our own
curriculum and priorities for teacher education."
An experienced teaching professional, Ms Macaslan's background is firmly
rooted in professional practice. Born in Troon, Ayrshire, she was educated
at St Joseph's Academy in Kilmarnock before graduating from the University
of Aberdeen with a BSc in 1975. She undertook primary teacher training
at Aberdeen College of Education at a time when there was a teacher surplus,
and she found herself back in Strathclyde, where she spent the next four
years teaching at Hillend Primary School in Greenock. This was followed
by a move back to the North-east, where her career snowballed as she moved
from Boddam Primary School to Southpark in Fraserburgh, before taking
up the post of Assistant Head Teacher at Meethill Primary School in Peterhead.
In 1984, Ms Macaslan joined the then Aberdeen College of Education, where
she lectured in primary education and special needs for two years before
returning to school as Head of Peterhead Central Primary School. Then
in 1994, she returned to the College where she has remained ever since,
firstly as deputy director of the BEd (Hons) programme and latterly as
Ms Macaslan and her colleagues have a lot of plans for their new role
at the University, not least the development of their current portfolio
of programmes which are delivered through distance learning in Scotland
and beyond, as well as the enhancement of their relationship with schools,
professional agencies and the Local Authorities.
"It is also important to make a significant and distinctive contribution
to the work already going on at the University of Aberdeen," she
"In particular, we want to widen opportunities for all kinds of learners
through promoting the principle of inclusion.
"This is a broad principle, which embraces the idea that education,
and access to education, is for everyone of all ages, locations and levels
of ability and this, of course, is associated with the idea of lifelong
learning and helping people access a continuum of relevant educational