Contact us on 01851 705743 or
email info@welovestornoway.com

The colleges taking part in the proposed merger of UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland are all facing a similar crisis as funding ids cut and student numbers fall because a decline in local population.

That's the background as the 10-week public consultation on the merger enters its final weeks. 

The colleges say: "This exciting new strategic partnership would create an anchor institution of scale and impact within UHI, and the region, supporting 9000 students and 600 staff in 19 rural and island campus locations across the north of Scotland."

But they add: "All three colleges face similar challenges including real-term funding cuts, rising costs and a declining demographic.

"By coming together, they become a more resilient, efficient, and financially sustainable organisation, with the talent, expertise, and capacity to grow and fully respond to the needs of their local communities.

"Merger will also enhance the student experience by providing access to more learning opportunities and support; protect local jobs; and focus the colleges’ collective strengths to support the growth of key industries, particularly in the blue and green economies, through distinctive education, training, and world-class research."

Dr Michael Foxley, chair of the partnership board leading the merger project, added: “We are confident this is the best way forward for our rural and island colleges, which play a critical role in supporting our local communities, not only through access to learning, training, skills development, and world-class research, but as local employers.

"We are on the brink of a blue and green industrial revolution. By coming together, we ensure we have the resource and capacity to meet the training needs of employers in our areas, helping to support the growth of our fragile economies. All views will be taken on board and will help refine the case for merger, which will be considered by the boards of management at each of our three colleges later this year.”

The last of three online public consultation sessions takes place on Wednesday 28 September, 7pm to 8pm, and is an opportunity to find out more about the merger proposal, ask questions and provide feedback. The merger team will also be looking for feedback on college identity.

Visit https://www.rural-islands-merger.uhi.ac.uk/consultation-events/ to sign up.

The full merger proposal and business case, including a detailed rationale and financial model, can be viewed at www.rural-islands-merger.uhi.ac.uk.

The full proposal builds on feedback from the initial consultation with staff, students and external stakeholders, which took place in December 2021 and January 2022.

People can make their views known by completing a merger survey or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The consultation runs until Friday 14 October.

In a joint statement, the three principals, Debbie Murray (UHI North Highland), Sue Macfarlane (UHI Outer Hebrides), and Lydia Rohmer (UHI West Highland), said: “There’s just a few weeks left for people to have their say on this exciting development, which we believe will be transformational for our rural and island communities. Merger is about doing more, not less. By coming together, we create a more resilient, sustainable organisation, which will continue to serve our local communities in the way we do now, but with more impact. We will have combined capacity to better meet the needs of our communities and to respond to the range of social, cultural and economic opportunities that make our region one of the most exciting places in the country to live, work and study right now. We urge people to go online to look at the merger proposal and provide feedback via our survey.”