Shetland Islands Council are pushing ahead with the next stage of their decision-making on the merger of Shetland College, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Council are due to take a decision, without public scrutiny, on Wednesday 22nd April, 10am, on a recommendation that it outsource the college from Council  control into a new entity which will be a private limited company. This would be the first direct privatisation of further education in Scotland.

Furthermore, Councillors will be making this decision behind closed doors on Wednesday based on financial figures calculated pre-pandemic. The EIS is extremely concerned about the lack of consultation and due diligence to ensure that public money is being well spent at time of grave financial uncertainty.

The EIS-FELA Shetland branch were previously advised they could attend the meeting as observers. It is unclear why this decision has been overturned.

EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan, commented, “Our college members in Shetland, and those working in further education institutes across Scotland, have made it clear that we are opposed to privatisation because it is likely to negatively impact staff terms and conditions and students’ quality of education.  EIS-FELA have submitted thousands of petition signatures in opposition to this privatisation. Now the Council are seeking to use the COVID 19 pandemic to disregard the principles of democracy and due process. This is completely unacceptable. The Council meeting is going ahead virtually next week, despite the fact that there are no new timescales for the merger or date for vesting of the new college, owing to the pandemic. This begs the question: why are the Council insistent on going ahead with making a decision next week?”

On Tuesday 21st April at 12pm hundreds will join with EIS members in Shetland to take action on social media, using the hashtag #KeepShetlandCollegePublic, to highlight these concerns ahead of the full Shetland Island Council meeting on Wednesday 22nd April.