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Education / Sandison appointed to oversee college merger

David Sandison.

SHETLAND Central councillor and former chair of the trust that runs the NAFC Marine Centre, David Sandison, has been appointed to lead the transition board that will oversee the merger of Shetland’s colleges.

As the new chairman of Shetland UHI Ltd, the charitable company that was formed in summer to take over from the shadow board, Sandison will play a key role in making sure the newly formed college will be up and running by the start of the 2021 academic year.

The 59-year-old former general manager of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) was appointed after an UHI-wide recruitment process.

The planned merger of Shetland College, the NAFC Marine Centre and Train Shetland still requires approval from the Scottish Government.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sandison described the new college as a “massive opportunity” for Shetland within the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) network. “The lights are on,” he said.

Sandison added: “We are now moving rapidly with the creation of our fully integrated education and research organisation for Shetland and I shall work tirelessly with colleagues to meet the ambitious plans that have been agreed.

“I look forward to staff and students getting to know our board better during the transition process and will ensure we are communicating our progress along the way.”

He will be working closely with Professor Jane Lewis, who was appointed in October 2019 to lead the new college.

Like its predecessor colleges, the merged college will be an academic partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The university’s chair of court Garry Coutts said: “David Sandison has been an active governor in our partnership for a number of years due to his involvement with NAFC Marine Centre UHI.

“I look forward to supporting him in the future development of the new college in Shetland, which will continue to engage with the needs of local communities and provide islanders with access to their own personalised learning experience through our partnership.”

A name for the new college has not been chosen yet after the initial proposal of Shetland Institute UHI found little support among students and teaching staff. A second consultation is ongoing.