News / Gray to integrate isles colleges

THE DIRECTOR of Shetland’s fisheries and marine college is to expand his workload by taking charge of unifying further and higher education in the islands.

On Monday Shetland Islands Council announced that marine biologist David Gray, the director of the NAFC Marine Centre, in Scalloway, would take over the additional responsibility of running Shetland College, Train Shetland and adult learning.

Councillors agreed to the joint management scheme in the wake of both Shetland College and the NAFC gaining university status as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The appointment follows the retirement last year of Shetland College director George Smith and will last for three years, with a formal review after 12 months.

Professor Gray’s work will be cut out for him and his new staff as they prepare for an HMIE inspection of Shetland College next month and oversee the extension of the Lerwick campus.


He has also been tasked with enhancing the island colleges’ relationship with both the UHI and the Scottish Funding Council, and preparing options for balancing the colleges’ books for the next financial year during a period of restraint.

Shetland College chairman Andrew Hughson described Professor Gray as “a dynamic and hugely effective figure of international reputation” and said he was “uniquely placed to take on this challenging job”.

SIC executive director Hazel Sutherland said his appointment would “make further education in the isles integrated and extremely cost effective”.

She said: “This joint management arrangement is unusual and will be challenging. It does however represent a unique opportunity to try to do things differently, in response to the tightening financial climate that we all face.

“There is a real opportunity to develop the learning opportunities betweens schools and colleges, for school pupils and for adult learners. This is an area where David has significant expertise and practical experience of sharing resources across schools, colleges and other learning settings.”

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Professor Gray joined the NAFC Marine Centre in December 2008 after serving as Dean of Faculty at the University of Derby in Buxton, where he was also principal of Buxton College of Further Education and chair of the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales Learning Community Strategic Group.

He said that Shetland was “the perfect location” to move to with his wife Janine and their three daughters

“I grew up in Cornwall and feel that Shetland offers the same family-orientated lifestyle and community support that I enjoyed as a child.  We very much appreciate the islands’ fantastic wildlife and environment and low crime rate.

“I value the opportunity to work towards the creation of a bright educational and economic future for these islands I now call home,” he said.

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