Opposition calls to hold a separate inquiry into the relationship between Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell and colleges have been rejected.
SNP members, who form the majority on Holyrood's Education Committee, instead voted for a slimmed-down proposal to call him back as part of a wider look at reforms in the sector. The vote follows controversy about Mr Russell's handling of a row which led to the resignation of a college chairman.
Kirk Ramsay left his job at Stow College in Glasgow claiming there was a gross overreaction to his decision to record a large private meeting where Mr Russell made a speech on the future of colleges. Since the resignation, Mr Russell and First Minister Alex Salmond have also apologised to MSPs for using incorrect funding figures.
Mr Russell faced cross-party calls to resign during a heated debate on further education last week.
On Tuesday, the Education Committee decided to discuss in public their political differences and concerns about the way events have unfolded. Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative members pushed for a fresh inquiry.
Following the vote, Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur, who sits on the committee, said: "It is disappointing that SNP members do not deem it appropriate to hold Mr Russell to account for his actions over recent weeks. Even Mr Russell admitted last week that a change in his style and approach is needed.
"After the decision by SNP members of the committee to block an inquiry into the Education Secretary's relationship with the college sector, we will now have to pursue these serious concerns through scrutiny of the college reform Bill. That falls short of what staff and students in the college sector would expect.
"SNP committee members have misjudged this. By blocking a specific inquiry, it suggests they feel Mr Russell has something to hide."
SNP MSP George Adam argued against that plan during the committee session. He said: "A lot of the good work that's been going on has been lost in this personality politics. We know the public just don't want to get involved because it just becomes 'everybody's as bad as one another'.
"We have to move away from this because all that's happening in this scenario is this Parliament, this committee, everybody else, is being dragged into this bun fight, which is not what we are here for. We're actually here to make sure we make a difference in education in Scotland."