Lack of accommodation for sea cadets hindering NAFC Marine Centre

A lack of places for students to live in central Shetland is holding back NAFC Marine Centre from taking on dozens more marine cadets every year.

Director of the college professor David Gray told councillors today that an extra 12 cadets were being taken on this year. But that is “only a drop in the ocean” compared to the additional 50 cadets big companies such as Clyde Marine would like to see being schooled in Scalloway.

The prospect of expanding the scheme was a “fantastic opportunity”, Mr Gray said, but finding residences for more students was a problem faced by both the NAFC and Shetland College, which is striving to attract international students.

Saying he would “probably get shot for suggesting this”, North Isles member Robert Henderson wondered out loud whether there was any merit in looking at adapting the empty parts of Scalloway School into student digs. Head of development Neil Grant said the school was one of a number of buildings which could be used to house students, but like other sites it might be costly to convert.
Development committee chairman Alastair Cooper suggested talking to universities and colleges on the mainland which have had similar troubles finding places for students to live.

At the suggestion of Allan Wishart, who sees “huge commercial potential” if the college can expand the number of cadet places, members agreed to investigate what can be done to eliminate the dearth of accommodation.

Councillor Frank Robertson suggested the vacant Bruce Hostel in Lerwick could be thrown into the mix as possible lodgings.

The committee approved the NAFC’s slimmed-down application for £1.73 million funding towards its running costs in 2012/13. Of that, £1 million will come from a surplus on Shetland Development Trust’s accounts dating back to 2009/10.

Mr Gray promised the NAFC was doing everything it could to attract more funding from outside Shetland as it seeks to reduce its reliance on council money year-on-year.

Mr Robertson said some of the research the marine centre had carried out had been “absolutely invaluable” to the industry in informing decisions on shellfish stocks.


Add Your Comment
  • Colin Hunter

    • January 27th, 2012 1:44

    When I was a Cadet in 1971, the course then was 4 years. In the first year (Phase1) we were housed in approved Halls of Residence. In the second year (Still phase 1) we went out into Lodgings with local families who had met the requirements of the college authorities. We were paid extra “Digs” money to reflect this change in circumstances. The 3rd year (Phase 2, actually about 16 months) was spent at sea, gaining practical experience on the companies vessels, and the 4th year (Phase 3) was spent back at college finishing the course. In this phase we were paid subsistence allowance and expected to fend for ourselves. We were. after all, young men of the world by this time and did not expect to be pandered to in halls of residence. Perhaps such an approach could take the strain off the college halls by reserving them for new entrants. Families in Scalloway and it’s surrounds may find my suggestion to be a nice little earner for their spare room. Any vacant buildings could be converted into self contained student flats for returning senior students. Just a thought!

  • Sandy McDonald

    • January 29th, 2012 4:11

    I agree with Colin, when I was a cadet back in 97 at Glasgow we were only expected to stay in the halls of residence for the first phase at college. After that we were free to find our own accommodation (although we could stay in the halls if we wished – not that anyone did!). The problem faced by cadets in scalloway however is the lack of affordable accommodation in Shetland. Many flats/houses are used by oil workers. Perhaps the NAFC could put an advert In the paper asking if anyone would be interested in lodging cadets. I am not sure what vetting would be required for the under 18’s mind you. Might be tricky.


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