Launching a public consultation on the proposed merger of UHI North Highland, Outer Herbrides and West Highland as part of commitments regarding jobs and staff status and claim change would result in a “more resilient, efficient and financially sustainable”
A 10-week public consultation on the proposed merger of UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland was launched today.
This new strategic partnership would create an anchor institution of scale and impact within UHI and the region, supporting 9,000 students and 600 staff across 19 rural and island campuses in the north of Scotland.
All three colleges face similar challenges, including long-term funding cuts, rising costs and declining demographics, UHI says.
By coming together, they become a more resilient, efficient and financially sustainable organization, with the talent, expertise and capacity to grow and fully meet the needs and ambitions of their local communities.
The merger will also improve the student experience by giving them access to more flexible learning opportunities and support; protect local jobs; and focus the collective strengths of colleges to support the growth of key industries, particularly in the blue and green economies, through distinctive world-class education, training and research.
The three colleges have already confirmed:
There will be no mandatory layoffs as a direct result of the merger.
A new college will have incorporated status, reassuring staff on terms and conditions, ensuring continued access to public sector pension schemes. Colleges have already committed to national wage bargaining.
Remain local through dispersed leadership and management, maintain a local presence, and ensure local views are heard and needs are met through the introduction of local advisory committees.
In a joint statement, the three directors, Debbie Murray (UHI North Highland), Sue Macfarlane (UHI Outer Hebrides) and Lydia Rohmer (UHI West Highland), said: “This is an opportunity for everyone to have their say. to say about this exciting development which we believe will be transformational for our rural and island communities.
“Merging is about doing more, not less. By coming together, we are creating a more resilient and sustainable organization, which will continue to serve our local communities as we do now, but with greater impact. We will have a combined capacity to better meet the needs of our communities and respond to the range of social, cultural and economic opportunities that make our region one of the most exciting places in the country to live, work and study right now.
Dr Michael Foxley, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the partnership leading the proposed merger, added: “We believe this is the best way forward for our rural and island colleges, which play a vital role in supporting our local communities, not only through access to world-class learning, training, skills development and research, but as local employers. It is important that people get involved and have their say. All views will be considered and will help refine the merger case, which will be considered by the boards of each of our three colleges later this year. »
The full merger proposal and business case, including a detailed rationale and financial model, can be viewed at www.rural-islands-merger.uhi.ac.uk, along with event details online information and self-guided tours of campuses and learning. centers throughout the consultation.
The full proposal builds on feedback from the initial consultation with staff, students and external stakeholders, which took place in December 2021 and January 2022.
People can make their views on the merger known by responding to our merger survey or by sending comments to our dedicated merger email address: [email protected]
The consultation runs until Friday 14 October.