Plans to merge Shetland College and NAFC Marine Centre into a single body which would also take over most of the courses offered by Train Shetland will be scrutinised tomorrow.
The proposal will be considered by Shetland Islands Council, which will be asked to support the setting up of a project board to consider governance of the new body.
Officials are recommending the creation of a single independent entity for the tertiary education, research and training sector following a review which was carried out earlier this year. In June the SIC agreed to merge the two educational institutions.
At the time councillor Drew Ratter, who is also chairman of the Shetland College board and a member of the University of the Highlands and Islands court, said it was a “positive” move.
“A merged independent college taking on board all the good out of the three autonomous and semi-autonomous institutions we have, will deliver the best for learners in Shetland,” he said.
The future of adult learning will be considered in a separate review of community planning and development.
The creation of a single entity would mean organisational, legal and financial discussions for the future project board. All council departments and partner organisations have expressed willingness to take part. These include representatives from Shetland College, Train Shetland, Adult Learning, Shetland Fisheries Training Centre, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Shetland College lecturer Brian Nugent is secretary of the Shetland College branch of the teachers’ union EIS and FELA (further education lecturers’ association). He wants staff representation on the project board.
Mr Nugent said: “I have never had any details about the project board but would like staff representation on it.”
He also called for finances within education to be better controlled, and said: “The NAFC provides services [to the fishing and aquaculture sector], including information, and for nothing or a discounted price, it seems to me this can’t be tolerated now.”
And money for the Skills for Work programme should go to Shetland College. He said: “We have S3 and S4 [school] pupils go into the college every second Friday for construction, art and care [courses]. The education department should pay the college but they don’t, it’s a hidden subsidy from Shetland College through the development department to the education department. The Curriculum for Excellence says money should follow the pupil. We’re doing charity work.”
SIC director of development services Neil Grant said: “The creation of a sustainable model for tertiary education, research and training is a priority for both the council and the wider Shetland community.”