The EIS has written to John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, to raise concerns over the proposed merger of Shetland College, Train Shetland and the NAFC Marine Centre.
The EIS has raised particular concern over a recent suggestion that any newly merged institution would be 'unincorporated' and therefore sit outwith the governance arrangements for Scotland's public sector Further Education colleges.
In the letter EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan says, "Whilst the EIS is supportive of the proposed merger, it has significant concerns about recommendations which are emerging from the Shadow Project Board that any new entity will be an unincorporated body."
"The EIS believes that this move would be detrimental to the security of educational provision in Shetland, with delivery being undertaken by a company limited by guarantee which would not be subject to the same governance arrangements in place for incorporated colleges in Scotland."
Mr Flanagan also warned that appropriate scrutiny of the spending of public money would be put at risk under the proposed model: "Unincorporated bodies are not public bodies and do not have the same level of accountability enshrined in statute as incorporated bodies. Incorporated bodies are regulated by Scots law and are accountable to the Scottish Parliament."
EIS-FELA President, Pam Currie, commented, "The EIS believes that the delivery of FE in Shetland deserves the same level of public accountability security of provision and Parliamentary oversight as the 20 incorporated colleges in the other areas of Scotland."
"The EIS has raised these concerns directly with the Shadow Board. However, it would appear that concerns over financial viability are driving decisions around the legal status of the new entity. It seems odd that efforts are being made to cut costs around governance arrangements when the new body will be funded by public money."
In addition to writing to the Deputy First Minister, the EIS has also written to the Scottish Funding Council for Further & Higher Education, raising the same concerns.