In early 2021, the boards of management at UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland commissioned a review into their long-term strategic future.

A Partnership Board was formed in September 2021 to formally explore the option of merger.

This led to a visioning event, with over 50 delegates from the colleges' boards, staff and student body, to explore our collective ambition and aspiration, and what might be achieved. Many expressed their enthusiasm, excitement, and support to explore further how the proposals can be move forward. The merger proposals have the potential to:

  • Deliver a college that will build on the excellence and expertise of our three current colleges, creating a step-change for learning, skills, enterprise and innovation in our region
  • Foster a college which can bring equity of opportunity and will make a real and positive impact to the lives and prosperity of our people in the most fragile rural and island communities of Scotland and the UK
  • Give staff greater job security, deliver a more sustainable curriculum and offer promote career progression.

An initial consultation took place with staff, students, and the public in early 2022. Feedback from the initial consultation has supported the development of the full merger proposal and business case, which was originally published on 8 August 2022.

Partnership board content

Partnership board

Partnership board

For the institutions that wish to explore merger, a partnership board to develop the detail of the merger business case needed to be established. It required representation from the merging colleges, both non-executive and principals, staff, students and other key stakeholders. The establishment of such a board was agreed at the college alignment steering group meeting at the end of July 2021. At that meeting the chairs of the merging colleges appointed Dr Michael Foxley to chair the partnership board.

The agreement to form a partnership board and terms of reference are available here. A signed and dated version is held as a record.

The regular members of the partnership board are set out below. Where a member cannot attend an alternate will be identified and invited.

NameDesignationAppointed byAttendance as
Dr Michael Foxley Chair of the Partnership Board College Chairs Independent Chair
Derek Lewis Chair of UHI West Highland  UHI West Highland Member
Robbie Rowantree Chair of UHI North Highland UHI North Highland  Member
Archie MacDonald Chair of UHI Outer Hebrides UHI Outer Hebrides Member
Lydia Rohmer Principal of UHI West Highland  UHI West Highland  Member
Debbie Murray Principal of UHI North Highland  UHI North Highland Member
Sue MacFarlane Principal of UHI Outer Hebrides UHI Outer Hebrides Member
Florence Jansen HISA President HISA Member
Rotating Members
Ciaran Gibson
Tyler Daniels
Sophie-Ann Baine
HISA representative for
UHI West Highland
UHI Outer Hebrides
UHI North Highland 
HISA Member
Nigel Patterson Staff representative UHI West Highland  Member
Magnus Davidson Staff representative UHI North Highland Member
Gareth Davies Staff representative UHI Outer Hebrides Member

In addition, the following members will be in attendance :

NameDesignationAppointed byAttendance as
Linda McLeod Interim Deputy Director (Access, Learning and Outcomes) Scottish Funding Council Observer
Morvern Cameron Head of Universities, Education and Skills Highlands and Islands Enterprise Observer
Max Brown Programme Director University of the Highlands and Islands Project Support
Steven Gregg Project Manager University of the Highlands and Islands Project Support
Shirley MacBean Programme Coordinator University of the Highlands and Islands Clerk to the Board
Rachel Cumberland Merger Coordinator University of the Highlands and Islands Project Coordinator
Helen Aird Merger Communications Officer UHI West Highland Project Support