Name for merged college revealed

A NEW college for the North and West Highlands and Outer Hebrides will be known as UHI North, West and Hebrides when three UHI colleges merge.

Last month the boards of management at UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland formally approved the merger proposal and business case, which will see them come together as a single UHI college from August 2023, pending Scottish Government approval.

More than 200 people took part in the consultation on name, including staff, students, prospective students, external partners, employers, and influencers.

The consultation found overwhelming support for a name that celebrates local identities while aligning with the existing UHI place-based brand.

Several options were considered by the Partnership Board, which was set up to lead the case for merger, but UHI North, West and Hebrides was considered the most inclusive. It was also backed by the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA).

Dr Michael Foxley, Chair of the Partnership Board, said: “We are grateful to everyone who took part in this consultation as the feedback we received was critical to our decision making. Our staff, students and stakeholders are rightly proud of their local communities, so we needed to find a solution that was inclusive, while celebrating our unique local identities across a geographic area the size of Wales. This is an important milestone, which signals the start of our next chapter and creates a solid foundation to move forward positively with all our stakeholders towards a merger date next year.”

The college name will be bilingual to celebrate our Gaelic heritage.

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, Wester Ross, Skye, and the Outer Hebrides, the new college is ideally placed to develop Gaelic language provision and respond to the region’s key growth sectors including the economic opportunities around net zero decarbonisation, renewable energy, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and aquaculture.