Rural and Islands College Merger proposal: Consultation

Closed 5 May 2023

Opened 24 Feb 2023

Feedback updated 27 Dec 2023

We asked

We asked you for your views on the proposal to merge 3 colleges assigned to UHI: the incorporated colleges, North Highland College and Lews Castle College, wished to merge with the non-incorporated West Highland College, to form a single college called UHI North, West and Hebrides College.  We also asked you for your views on the proposed name of the new college.

You said

The consultation attracted 21 responses: 13 from individuals; and 8 from organisations. 14 of the respondents agreed with the rationale for the college merger (67%), 5 disagreed (23%) and 2 expressed no opinion (9.5%).  On the proposed name of the college 8 people liked it (38%); 11 did not like it (52%) and 2 expressed no view (9.5%). 

(N.B. Percentages don't add up to 100 due to rounding).

We did

After consideration of the consultation responses, the Minister for Further and Higher Education; and Minister for Veterans, approved the merger.  An Order, legislating for the closure of Lews Castle College, and its merger with North Highland College was laid in Parliament on 2nd June and came into effect on 1st August 2023.  This allowed the merger of all 3 colleges to proceed; as West Highland College, being non-incorporated did not require Ministerial approval to merge with the other colleges.


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The Scottish Government is seeking views on a proposal put forward by the boards of management of North Highland College (UHI North Highland), West Highland College (UHI West Highland) and Lews Castle College (UHI Outer Hebrides) to merge into a single, incorporated college.

The merging parties have suggested a “host” model, whereby the assets and liabilities of West Highland College and Lews Castle College are transferred to North Highland College to create the merged college. Under section 3 of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 (“the 1992 Act”) the power to establish, merge or close colleges of further education rests with the Scottish Ministers. These powers can only be exercised in relation to colleges which are incorporated under the 1992 Act. West Highland College is not incorporated under the 1992 Act and it is proposed  that it would be wound up and the assets transferred through other non-statutory means. The Scottish Ministers have no role in that process.

Both Lews Castle College and North Highland College are incorporated colleges. Should the Scottish Ministers decide to proceed as is proposed in regard to this merger, a statutory instrument would be laid in the Scottish Parliament to close and transfer the assets of Lews Castle College.

The Boards of Management of the three colleges have proposed the merged college be re-named as UHI North, West and Hebrides. Section 3(4) of the 1992 Act provides that the governing body of a college of further education may, with the consent of the Scottish Ministers, change the name of the college or of the governing body. Although not a statutory requirement, Scottish Ministers are seeking views on the proposed new name for the merged college as part of this consultation.

Read the consultation paper 

Why your views matter

The Scottish Ministers will give careful consideration to views expressed as part of this consultation in deciding whether or not to proceed with the proposed merger.


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