Principal designate for merged college appointed

A PRINCIPAL designate has been appointed to lead and implement the merger of UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides, and UHI West Highland.

Lydia Rohmer, the current principal of UHI West Highland, will take up her new role shortly, with responsibility for collaboratively leading the senior teams at UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland towards a merger date in August 2023, and establishing the new college. 

Lydia is a talented executive leader with more than 25 years’ experience working in the Scottish education sector and a passionate advocate of the rural and island communities in the North and West Highlands and Outer Hebrides. 

Dr Michael Foxley, Chair of the Partnership Board leading the merger, said: “Lydia has extensive experience of creating successful colleges through merger having led the development of UHI West Highland, following the merger of Lochaber College and Skye and Wester Ross College. Before that, she held the position of Curriculum Director at City of Glasgow College, a role she assumed following her role in the merger of Glasgow’s city centre colleges. She has held senior executive roles at UHI and serves on a number of sector-wide, tertiary education groups in Scotland. I am delighted to appoint Lydia to this position and know she will work tirelessly with her fellow principals to build a thriving college of scale and impact, which provides maximum benefit to our students, staff, and communities, and responds to the economic opportunities in our region.” 

Lydia Rohmer, Principal Designate of the merged college, said: “Merger gives us a once in a generation opportunity to build a college of scale and impact, which plays a transformative role in unlocking the economic opportunities for our region. Building on the successes and specialisms of UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides, and UHI West Highland, and in partnership with UHI, we can create a college which provides a gateway to distinctive world class education, research, and innovation, with a unique access model rooted in its rural and island communities. I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to lead such a fantastic team and look forward to meeting as many staff, students and stakeholders across the North and West Highlands and Outer Hebrides as possible over the coming months.” 

Debbie Murray, Principal of UHI North Highland, and Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Interim Principal of UHI Outer Hebrides, will continue in their roles until August, at which point, they will assume key roles in the merged college. 

Earlier this month the boards of management at the three colleges formally approved the merger proposal and business case, which has now been submitted to the Scottish Government for approval. 

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 merged 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. 

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 Partnership Board, which was set up to lead and develop the case for merger, will now become a Transition Board. Applications are now open for the position of Chair of the Transition Board, which will become the Board of Management for the new college on vesting. For more information, and to download an application pack, visit