Matter of public record (Les Sinclair)

Oh dearie me. My letter published in The Shetland Times on Friday 21st March certainly seems to have touched a raw nerve with Kathy Coull.

It is not my practice to conduct debate through the letters pages of newspapers, but I hope you’ll allow me to correct some errors, or perhaps misunderstandings, in Ms Coull’s response to my original letter.

Firstly, it is not a matter of opinion, mine or anyone else, that Shetland College is in severe financial difficulty. It is a matter of public record. By definition, this must be a failure of management.

Secondly, I never mentioned public finance or the use of funds disbursed by public bodies.

Perhaps Ms Coull could elucidate on why she feels my remarks relating to world-class research, or rather the lack of it, being conducted in Shetland’s colleges is spurious? Where will I, or anyone else who has sufficient interest in finding out what has been done in this area, find any evidence of any peer-reviewed research that has been conducted in or by Shetland’s colleges?

I did not allude to the Scottish School of Textiles and Design; I made a direct reference to it. Incidentally, the link http://www.tex.hw.ac.uk/index.htm will take you to their website, so I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that it is still widely known by that title.

Ms Coull has very helpfully provided 12 bullet points outlining her personal experience and involvement in several different initiatives while studying at Shetland College.

However, parity of esteem and academic equivalence depend on much more than the personal experiences of individuals.

For over a decade, an international league table of universities has been published following research methodology originally established by the United Nations. It compares international university rankings based on several criteria; academic excellence; research performance; employment outcomes; and student satisfaction being four of them.

Strangely enough, the University of the Highlands and Islands doesn’t appear anywhere in these rankings.

Les Sinclair

8 Annsbrae Place,

Lerwick.

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