Warm welcome to UHI North, West and Hebrides College
By Shona Struthers, CEO, Colleges Scotland
Today I’m pleased to welcome UHI North, West and Hebrides as a member of Colleges Scotland. Scotland’s newest college is formed from the merger of UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland, and is one of the largest academic partners within the University of the Highlands and Islands. Scotland now has 24 colleges, and this rare thing – a new college – holds exciting possibilities for the future.
UHI North, West and Hebrides, in the words of Principal Lydia Rohmer, seeks to be a “driver of change, supporting economic growth in our rural and island communities.” This focus on growth is very much part of the story of colleges in Scotland – colleges are organisations which not only deliver education and training, but they are civic and community anchors, very closely tied to local employers and their regional labour markets.
The merger will see expertise and resources across three colleges pooled into one new organisation. Supporting local communities is at the heart of the launch of UHI North, West and Hebrides, and in a distinct area of Scotland, stretching across the North and West Highlands, Skye and the Outer Hebrides. This is quite a footprint - the new college will serve an area larger than Wales - and will support over 9,000 enrolled students, 600 staff and 19 campuses and centres across many rural and island communities. Some of these communities are economically fragile, and facing challenges from poverty and depopulation - the college undoubtedly creates and sustains local opportunities and places of learning, hand-in-hand with part-time, online, work-based and face to face options to suit individuals and businesses.
UHI North, West and Hebrides has an early commitment to not just serve these areas but also to be ambitious, innovative and creative, with regional and international opportunities already in the pipeline. I warmly welcome Lydia, and the Chair Derek Lewis, to the Colleges Scotland membership. When colleges thrive, Scotland thrives.