Scottish government plans that would see Shetland College become part of a “multi-college region”, governed by a regional board, have been heavily criticised by MSP Tavish Scott.
Mr Scott said he met education minister Mike Russell with Shetland College principal David Gray and then chairman Allan Wishart in January. At that time the minister declared that local education services would continue to be local.
Now there was the possibility of the college’s board functioning “only operationally rather than strategically or educationally”, Mr Scott said, and he “remained utterly sceptical” of government assurances that the college will not be affected by the moves.
He said: “This is a classic example of the two key strategies of the Scottish government: firstly, making unsubstantiated claims that ‘everything will be fine’ and blaming others when it isn’t; and secondly, taking control away from local communities and centralising it. It is happening with tiresome regularity now.
“Clearly the education secretary has already decided these changes will occur. Re-assurances ring hollow. I will continue to support the Shetland Islands Council’s efforts to fight this unnecessary interference.
“Shetland College and the marine college in Scalloway are huge assets to the islands. They are well run by staff who know and understand the demographics and needs of our unique community.
“The SNP government don’t trust local communities to take care of their own services. The irony is Shetland will be left feeling less independent than ever. What services will be taken from us next?”