Plans for college merger pushed forward by education committee

A full merger of Shetland College with the NAFC Marine Centre and Train Shetland is being pushed forward.

Members of Monday’s education and families committee heard of plans for a full business case to be built up by October ahead of the plans going before the Scottish government.

The idea of merging college services has been on the go for a number of years.

SIC officials have lately been busy whittling an initial nine options down to a preferred shortlist of two.

The first is that the Shetland Fisheries Training Centre Trust, which operates the NAFC in Scalloway, serves as a “host” organisation, taking control of the other college services and widening its remit accordingly.

The other preferred option is that a new, independent organisation be created, which will serve as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands network.

Committee chairman George Smith, who worked at Shetland College between 2006 and 2011, said it was “absolutely imperative” members get behind the proposals.

Addressing members, he said he felt the need to “declare an interest” in his passion for tertiary education.

“I think we should never underestimate the value of the learning opportunities that are provided. We can’t afford to fail our current and future learners.

“If we have the courage to move forward we can create a better future for tertiary education. It’s in our hands.”

• More on this story in Friday’s Shetland Times.


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