Boards of management vote in favour of college merger | Bùird rianachd a’ bhòtadh airson co-aonadh cholaistean

The boards of management at UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland have voted unanimously in favour of merger.

The boards met last week to formally approve the merger proposal and business case, which has now been submitted to the Scottish Government for approval ahead of a proposed merger date in August 2023.

The merger proposal and business case has support from UHI, as the Regional Strategic Body, as well as key bodies, organisations and political representatives including MSPs for the merged college area - Alasdair Allan MSP for the Western Isles, Kate Forbes MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, and Maree Todd MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross - Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Skills Development Scotland.

By coming together, UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland will create a more sustainable organisation with combined capacity and resource to grow curriculum, research and innovation; develop our partnerships to support employers address the skills shortages in our area; and become more responsive to the social, cultural, and economic opportunities in our regions.

With 9000 students, 600 staff and 19 learning centres and campuses stretching from Caithness and Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty to Lochaber, Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles, the merged college is ideally placed to respond to the region’s key growth sectors including the economic opportunities around net zero decarbonisation, renewable energy, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and aquaculture. Gaelic provision will also be a priority for the merged college.

The decision by boards follows a 10-week public consultation and a successful visit by the Scottish Funding Council to campuses in Fort William, Stornoway and Thurso.

The public consultation found the majority of staff, students, external stakeholders and members of the public were supportive of the case for merger, and the vision, mission, and values of the merged college. More than three quarters of staff who responded believed it would positively impact and strengthen the activities of the colleges, while the majority of students surveyed felt it would impact on their student experience positively.

Other positives associated with merger included increased opportunities for staff development, an enhanced student experience, financial sustainability, more course options for students and the opportunity to focus the collective strengths of all three colleges to better support our local communities. The willingness of key stakeholders to support the merger was also noted.

Dr Michael Foxley, Chair of the Partnership Board leading the merger programme, said: “This decision is testament to the great teamwork and positive energy of the executive team, merger programme team, board members, staff, and students. We have a clear vision for our merged college and have growth ambitions to develop our partnerships and create new learning and training opportunities that directly benefit our communities, encouraging more people to live, study and work across the North and West Highlands and Hebrides. This is a tremendously exciting and positive time for our three colleges, and we look forward to working collaboratively with all our stakeholders as we move towards a vesting date next year.”

Heather Innes, President of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA), added: “HISA are pleased with the decision made to proceed with the merging of UHI North Highland, UHI West Highland and UHI Outer Hebrides to become one stronger and sustainable institution.  As a student-led organisation we are proud that the students were given such encouragement to provide their views and opinions regarding the proposal. We plan to continue working closely with UHI staff and students to ensure the student voice continues to be a major part of the process in creating the best college for our current and future students.”

Archie MacDonald, Chair of the Board of Management, UHI Outer Hebrides, said: “This has been a long journey for our board, which began the process of formally exploring options to improve our long-term sustainability and maximise opportunities for students, staff, and our local communities, more than two years ago. We recognise the clear benefits merger will bring to the Outer Hebrides, providing resource and capacity to increase our learning offer, respond to growth opportunities, particularly in Gaelic provision and renewable energy, and support employers with their training needs. We will be able to do all of this while remaining a key partner in the Islands Deal. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to make this merger a success for our island communities.”

Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Interim Principal and Chief Executive, UHI Outer Hebrides, said: “The detailed process underpinning the decision to merge has given each partner a unique opportunity to examine individual and collective strengths from a different perspective; one that more realistically recognises and addresses the significant challenges ahead.  It is a privilege to lead UHI Outer Hebrides through this process and heartening to discover, and rediscover, the fantastic work delivered across our collective areas and the consistently strong levels of support we have from the diverse communities we serve.

This merger will build upon that work in ways that partners could not independently deliver or sustain. It will create momentum, increase ability, and focus determination to deliver a breadth and depth of curriculum that had not previously been possible.  Drawing upon our wider collective expertise, tapping into our greater range of physical resources, and focussing a broader range of expertise and enthusiasm, will result in a curriculum that will enable us to more effectively predict, stimulate and meet need to underpin the sustainable socio-economic growth that we all depend upon.”

The three colleges have already confirmed:

  • Staff will keep their current terms and conditions of employment when they transfer into the merged college.
  • The merged college will have incorporated status, ensuring access to public sector pension schemes. The colleges have already committed to adopting national bargaining on pay.
  • A distributed management model will be adopted, ensuring senior leadership is distributed across the merged college area.
  • The formation of local advisory committees to ensure the views of local stakeholders are heard.

Feedback was analysed independently by Ashbrook Research and Consultancy and is available to view here: Consultation feedback summary

Work will now continue to ensure the three colleges are ready for merger in August 2023. Consultation on the name of the merged college continues.


Tha bùird-stiùiridh UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, UHI Innse Gall agus UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar air bhòtadh gu h-aon ghuthach airson co-aonadh.

Choinnich na bùird gu foirmeil an t-seachdain a chaidh gus aontachadh ris a’ mholadh airson co-aonadh agus ris a’ chùis gnothachais, a tha a-nis air a dhol gu Riaghaltas na h-Alba airson aonta ron cheann-latha co-aonaidh a tha air a mholadh airson ceann-latha san Lùnastal 2023.

Tha taic aig a’ mholadh airson co-aonadh agus aig a’ chùis gnothachais bho UHI, mar am Buidheann Roinneil Ro-innleachdail, cho math ri na prìomh bhuidhnean, eagrachasan agus riochdairean poilitigeach a’ gabhail a-steach nam BPAan airson raon na colaiste co-aontaichte - Alasdair Allan BPA nan Eilean Siar, Ceit Fhoirbeis, BPA An Eilean Sgiathanaich, Loch Abair agus Bàideanach agus Maree Todd BPA airson Gallaibh, Cataibh agus Ros – Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean (HIE) agus Leasachadh Sgilean Alba.

Le bhith a’ tighinn ri chèile, cruthaichidh UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, UHI Innse Gall agus UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar buidheann nas seasmhaich le comas agus stòras co-aonaichte gus an curraicealam, rannsachadh agus ùr-ghnàthachas fhàs; ar com-pàirteachasan a leasachadh gus taic a thoirt do luchd-fastaidh a bhith a’ dèiligeadh ris a’ ghainnead sgilean san sgìre againn; agus a bhith a’ fàs nas so-fhreagrach ris na cothroman sòisealta, cultarail agus eaconamach sna roinnean againn.

Le 9000 oileanach, 600 luchd-obrach agus 19 ionadan-ionnsachaidh bho Gallaibh, Cataibh agus Ros is Crombaidh gu Loch Abar, Loch Aillse, An t-Eilean Sgiathanach agus Na h-Eileanan an Iar, tha a’ cholaiste cho-aonaichte ann an deagh àite gus freagairt air prìomh earrannan fàis na roinne a’ gabhail a-steach nan cothroman eaconamach a tha an cois neoni-dì-charbonachadh, lùth ath-nuadhachail, einnseanaireachd, sàr shaorachadh agus tuathanachas uisge. Bidh solair Gàidhlig cuideachd na phrìomhachas airson na colaiste cho-aonaichte.

Tha an co-dhùnadh le na bùird a’ leantainn air 10 seachdainean de cho-chomhairleachadh poblach agus cuairt shoirbheachail le Comhairle-maoineachaidh na h-Alba gu campasan anns a’ Gearasdan, Steòrnabhagh agus Inbhir Theòrsa.

Fhuair an co-chomhairleachadh poblach a-mach gun robh a’ mhòr-chuid den luchd-obrach, oileanaich, luchd-ùidh on taobh a-muigh agus buill den phoball taiceil dhan chùis airson co-aonadh, agus mu lèirsinn, misean agus luachan na colaiste co-aonaichte.  Bha còrr air trì chairteal den luchd-obrach a fhreagair dhan bheachd gum biodh buaidh dheimhinneach aige agus gu neartaicheadh e gnìomhan nan colaistean, agus bha a’ mhòr chuid de na h-oileanaich a chaidh a cheasnachadh dhan bheachd gum biodh buaidh dheimhinneach aige air am fèin-fhiosrachadh oileanach.

Bha nithean deimhinneach eile co-cheangailte ris a’ cho-aonadh a’ gabhail a-steach cothroman a bharrachd airson leasachadh luchd-obrach, fèin-fhiosrachadh oileanach àrdaichte, so-sheasmhachd ionmhasail, tuilleadh roghainnean cùrsa do dh’oileanaich agus an cothrom cuimseachadh air na neartan coitcheann aig na trì colaistean gus taic nas fheàrr a thoirt do ar coimhearsnachdan ionadail.  Chaidh sùim a ghabhail cuideachd de cho deònach ’s a bha prìomh luchd-ùidh taic a thoirt dhan cho-aonadh.

Thuirt Mìcheal Foxley, Cathraiche Bòrd a’ Chom-pàirteachais a tha a’ stiùireadh prògram a’ cho-aonaidh: “Tha an co-dhùnadh seo mar dhearbhadh air an deagh obair sgioba agus neart dheimhinneach an sgioba gnìomha, sgioba a’ phrògraim aonaidh, buill bùird, luchd-obrach agus oileanaich. Tha lèirsinn soilleir againn airson ar colaiste co-aonaichte agus the amasan fàis againn gus a bhith a’ leasachadh ar com-pàirteachasan agus gus a bhith a’ stèidheachadh cothroman ionnsachaidh agus trèanaidh ùra a bhios nam buannachd dhìreach dha na coimhearsnachdan againn, a’ brosnachadh barrachd dhaoine a thighinn a dh’fhuireach, a dh’ionnsachadh agus a dh’obair air feadh Ceann a Tuath agus Siar na Gàidhealtachd agus ann an Innse Gall. Is e àm air leth inntinneach agus deimhinneach a tha seo airson nan trì colaistean againn, agus tha sinn a’ coimhead air adhart ri bhith ag obair gu com-pàirteachail leis an luchd-ùidh againn air fad agus sinn a’ gluasad air adhart gu ceann-latha stèidheachaidh an ath bhliadhna.”

Thuirt Heather Innes, Ceann-suidhe Comunn Oileanaich na Gàidhealtachd ’s nan Eilean (HISA): “Tha HISA toilichte leis a’ cho-dhùnadh a chaidh a dhèanamh a dhol air adhart le bhith a’ co-aonadh UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar agus UHI Innse Gall gu bhith na aon stèidh nas làidir agus nas seasmhaich. Mar bhuidheann air a stiùireadh le oileanaich tha sinn pròiseil gun deach oileanaich a mhisneachadh gu bhith a’ toirt am beachdan agus an smuaintean seachad mun mholadh. Tha sinn airson leantainn oirnn ag obair gu dlùth le luchd-obrach agus oileanaich UHI gus dèanamh cinnteach gum bi guth nan oileanach a’ leantainn air ann a bhith mar phàirt mhòr dhen phròiseas ann a bhith a’ cruthachadh a’ cholaiste as fheàrr airson nan oileanach a tha againn an-dràsta agus an fheadhainn a bhios againn san àm ri teachd.”

Thuirt Archie MacDhòmhnaill, Cathraiche Bòrd-stiùiridh, UHI Innse Gall: “Tha seo air a bhith na shlighe fhada dhan bhòrd againn, a thòisich am pròiseas a bhith a’ sgrùdadh roghainnean gu foirmeil a thaobh ar seasmhachd san ùine fhada a leasachadh agus a bhith a’ meudachadh chothroman do dh’oileanaich, luchd-obrach agus ar coimhearsnachdan ionadail, còrr air dà bhliadhna air ais. Tha sinn ag aithneachadh nam buannachdan soilleir a bheir co-aonadh do Innse Gall, a’ tabhann stòras agus comas gus ar tairgse ionnsachaidh a mheudachadh, a bhith a’ freagairt ri cothroman fàis, gu sònraichte a thaobh na Gàidhlig agus lùth ath-nuadhachail, agus taic a thoirt do luchd-fastaidh leis na feumalachdan trèanaidh aca. Bidh e comasach dhuinn seo gu lèir a dhèanamh agus aig an aon àm fantainn mar phrìomh chom-pàirtiche anns an Islands Deal. Tha sinn a’ coimhead air adhart ri bhith ag obair còmhla ris an luchd-ùidh againn gus an co-aonadh a tha seo a dhèanamh soirbheachail airson ar coimhearsnachdan eileanach.”

Thuirt Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Prionnsabal Eadar-amail agus Ceannard, UHI Innse Gall: “Tha am pròiseas mionaideach mu cho-aonadh a dhèanamh, a’ toirt cothrom air leth do gach com-pàirtiche neartan fa leth agus cruinnichte a sgrùdadh bho shealladh diofraichte; aon a tha nas practaigiche ag aithneachadh agus a’ dèiligeadh ris na dùbhlain chudromach a tha romhainn. Is e fìor urram a tha ann a bhith a’ stiùireadh UHI Innse Gall tron phròiseas a tha seo agus tha e na mhisneachd a bhith a’ lorg, agus a’ faighinn a-mach às ùr an t-sàr obair a tha air a lìbhrigeadh thar nan roinnean againn air fad agus na h-ìrean taic làidir a tha sinn a’ faighinn gu cunbhalach bho na coimhearsnachdan a tha sinn a’ frithealadh.

Tha na trì colaistean air dearbhadh a-cheana:

  • Nach bi neach sam bith air a phàigheadh dheth gu h-èigneachail sam bith ann mar thoradh dìreach air a’ cho-aonadh.
  • Gun cùm an luchd-obrach na teirmichean is cumhaichean fastaidh làithreach aca an uair a bhios iad a’ dol dhan cholaiste co-aonaichte.
  • Bidh inbhe corpaichte aig a’ cholaiste cho-aonaichte, a’ dearbhadh cothrom airson sgeamaichean peinnsein na h-earrainn phoblaich.  Tha na colaistean a-cheana air gealltainn gabhail ri barganachadh nàiseanta a thaobh pàigheadh.
  • Thèid gabhail ri modail de rianachd sgaoilte, a’ dèanamh cinnteach gum bi àrd-cheannardas sgaoilte thairis air raon na colaiste cho-aonaichte.
  • Thèid comataidhean comhairleachaidh ionadail a stèidheachadh gus d1eanamh cinnteach gum bi beachdan luchd-ùidh ionadail air an cluinntinn.

Bha am fios air ais air anailiseadh gu neo-eisimeileach le Ashbrook Research and Consultancy agus tha e ri fhaicinn an seo.

Leanaidh an obair air adhart a-nis gus dèanamh cinnteach gum bi na trì colaistean deiseil airson a’ cho-aonaidh san Lùnastal 2023. Tha co-chomhairleachadh a’ leantainn mu ainm na colaiste co-aonaichte.


For more information, please contact Helen Aird, Merger Communications Officer, on  or telephone 07584 616 252.

Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, cuir fios gu Helen Aird, Oifigear Conaltraidh a’ Cho-aonta, aig  no cuir fòn gu 07584 616 252.

Notes to editors | Notaichean do luchd-deasachaidh

  1. UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland are the trading names of North Highland College UHI, Lews Castle College UHI, and West Highland College UHI, respectively. 

Is e UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, UHI Innse Gall agus UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar ainmean malairt Colaiste Gàidhealtachd a Tuath UHI, Colaisde Caisteal Leòdhais UHI, agus Colaiste Gàidhealtachd an Iar UHI.

  1. UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland partners of UHI, the University of the Highlands and Islands, a diverse tertiary partnership serving our communities and connected to their needs. We offer flexible and supported learning from access level to PhD, as well as research opportunities rooted in place and purpose. The diversity and flexibility of our partnership is our greatest strength, allowing us to deliver more. 

Tha UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, UHI Innse Gall agus UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar nan com-pàirtichean de UHI, Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd ’s nan Eilean com-pàirteachas treas ìre eadar-mheasgte a tha a’ frithealadh ar coimhearsnachdan agus co-cheangailte ris na feuman aca.  Tha sinn a’ tabhann ionnsachadh sùbailte agus le taic bho ìre inntrigidh gu Phd, cho math ri cothroman rannsachaidh freumaichte ann an àite agus adhbhar.  Is e ar prìomh neart an t-iomadachd agus an sùbailteachd a tha nar com-pàirteachas, a tha a’ leigeil leinn a bhith a’ lìbhrigeadh barrachd.

  1. UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland support 9000 students and 600 staff in 19 remote, rural and island campus locations covering the Highlands, Skye and the Western Isles.

Tha UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, UHI Innse Gall agus UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar a’ toirt taic do 9000 oileanach agus 600 neach-obrach ann am 19 làrach campais iomallach, dùthchail agus eileanach air feadh na Gàidhealtachd, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach agus Nan Eilean an Iar.