UHI North, West and Hebrides merger approved by Scottish Government

Plans to merge three colleges across the Highlands have been approved by the Scottish Government.

UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland will merge on August 1 to form UHI North, West and Hebrides.

It comes after approval from Graeme Dey, minister for further education and higher education, and Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth.

The merged college aims to better connect learners across the far-reaching communities, near each of the three main campuses in Thurso, Fort William and Stornoway.

College bosses also hope the merger will streamline college operations, making it more sustainable so they can “do more with less in a difficult financial environment”.

The expanded college will accommodate more than 9,000 students and 600 staff across the three main campuses and 16 other smaller campuses.

The new college will have 19 campuses of varying size across the Highlands and Outer Hebrides. Image: UHI.

Learning will also be tailored towards industries aimed at tackling climate change and helping transition to net zero.

These include renewable energy, engineering, advanced manufacturing and technologies, spaceports and land and sea-based industries.

UHI North, West and Hebrides will be formed on August 1.

Lydia Rohmer, principal designate of UHI North, West and Hebrides, said: “UHI North, West and Hebrides has been more than two years in the planning and would not have been possible without the incredible teamwork of the principals, staff, students, and boards of management.

“We bring together three remarkable colleges to create a new, anchor institution, connecting rural and island communities through distinctive education and research shaped by our culture, location, and landscapes, providing opportunities for our students to develop the skills they need now, and in the future, for learning, life, and work.

Students outside UHI Outer Hebrides
Three colleges in Thurso, Fort William and Stornoway will merge in August. Image: UHI.

“Our unique distributed operating model, staff expertise and geography make us well placed to respond to the economic opportunities in our region, particularly around the blue and green economy.”

Vicki Nairn, vice chancellor of UHI, said: “This is an important milestone for our transformational three-college merger project and the UHI partnership as a whole.

“The university fully supports the project and we are excited about the benefits it will bring to our students, staff and communities across the UHI region.”

UHI West Highland located in Fort William. Image: UHI.

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