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Education / New name picked for merged college

Work across colleges and Train Shetland over last few months also praised by councillors

UHI Shetland's Lerwick campus.

THE PROPOSED new merged college for the isles is now set to be called Shetland UHI following consultation with staff and students.

It comes after the first suggested name Shetland Institute UHI did not appear to have full approval from the community.

Shetland Islands Council said earlier this year that “feedback from consultation meetings suggests that the word ‘institute’ has negative connotations locally and therefore should be avoided”.

In an update to the Shetland College board on Wednesday, councillors were told that the revised name has the approval of umbrella organisation the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), while the Scottish Funding Council has been informed.

A total of 136 responses were received through the new consultation, with three names – Shetland Institute UHI, Shetland UHI and UHI Shetland – put forward to staff and students for their thoughts.

Nearly 90 folk said their preference was Shetland UHI – with only nine picking the original Institute name.

The merged organisation will bring together Shetland College, the NAFC Marine Centre and Train Shetland as part of the UHI network and work is ongoing to finalise the process.

Meanwhile at Wednesday’s meeting an update report from Shetland College principal Jane Lewis was hailed for its positivity in the current circumstances.

Councillor George Smith said “there’s so much good work” going on in the tertiary education sector.

One area of praise was around higher education enrolments, with the number of full-time students well above the target.

As of 14 October there were 138 higher education students at Shetland College, compared to the target of 96.

Acting principal Susan Berry said this could be attributed in part to more people deciding to stay in Shetland instead of going south due to the Covid situation.

Lewis added that the MA Art and Social Practice course has also developed a good reputation and has boosted numbers.

She said she is “extremely proud” of the work of staff over recent months.

Meanwhile, Train Shetland now expects to appoint around 75 of the 100 apprenticeship places it has secured for 2020/21.

Concern was previously expressed that the coronavirus pandemic would impact the ability for employers to take on apprenticeships, with the bid for 100 places submitted to Skills Development Scotland pre-Covid.

Previous projections were for around two thirds of the 100 places to be filled, but the updated projection of 75 was hailed as “positive news despite the restrictions around Covid”.

College board chairman Peter Campbell concluded: “It’s really a credit to the staff and students that such a positive report is able to be produced.”