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Education / Shetland Labour calls for urgent action on UHI Shetland cuts

The former Shetland College is now part of UHI Shetland. Photo: Shetland News

THE LOCAL branch of the Labour Party is calling on the Scottish Government to increase funding for UHI Shetland.

The party said stringent cuts to save as much as £1.2 million from the university’s annual budget need to be prevented.

Labour’s only elected representative on Shetland Islands Council, Tom Morton, claimed the very future of Shetland was at stake.

Students at UHI Shetland are planning a protest outside the Lerwick campus on Wednesday to highlight how cuts would impact their learning.

UHI Shetland is holding a board meeting on Wednesday evening to consider any additional money saving proposals made over recent weeks, and to confirm what the next steps in the college’s restructuring proposals will be.

UHI Shetland is considering a range of cuts to services, including staff job losses and a reduction in courses and apprenticeships.

The Labour branch also highlighted the possible closure of the North Mainland learning centre and the “ending of core skills tuition for many vulnerable young people”.

Shetland North councillor Tom Morton.

Shetland North councillor Morton said: “This is an appalling situation which will affect every part of Shetland, many businesses, families, students and staff. It’s no overstatement to say that the very future of Shetland is at stake.

“Small rural businesses find themselves in a terrible situation, already told they must fund travel and subsistence costs for apprentices travelling to courses on the Scottish mainland.

“Shetland Islands Council now has no remit to interfere in the running of what were once academic jewels in its crown.

“However, the Scottish Government must recognise that its funding model does not work here. Basing funding on student numbers displays a typical central Scotland bias against rural communities and small colleges throughout Scotland are being badly hit.

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“In addition to threatening businesses, the future of apprentices, staff jobs and student courses, these cuts may affect some of the most vulnerable young folk in our society.

“The possible closure of the North Mainland Learning Centre, and cutting of core skills training, would be a dreadful blow and must be avoided.”

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