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Education / Lecturers fear ‘privatisation’ of further education

The EIS-FELA petition was handed in to Lerwick Town Hall earlier this month. Photo: Shetland News

A PETITION with more than 450 signatures urging Shetland Islands Council to rethink proposals to create a private company when merging Shetland College, the NAFC Marine Centre and Train Shetland into one organisation was handed in to Lerwick Town Hall on Friday.

The further eduction branch of the EIS teaching union says it fears such a move would undermine accountability of the new college and has the potential to “privatise education”.

The petition was accepted by council convener Malcolm Bell.

Chairman of the EIS-FELA branch at Shetland College, Andrew Anderson, said the union was not against the merger of the three organisations.

It feels, however, that the set-up of the new college is crucial to its future success.

“It is fundamental to how the future provision of further and higher education will be in Shetland,” Anderson said.

“That’s why the strength of support is there and why our members are feeling so strongly about it.

“Most colleges across Scotland are incorporated and as such accountable to the public, and there are reasons for that.

“We are absolutely agreed that any future college will have to be sustainable but if the emphasis of a private entity is on costs rather than education then our concern is that this would potentially reduce the offer of further and higher education to students across Shetland.”