The EIS has today (Wednesday) expressed its disappointment over Shetland Island Council’s decision to rubber-stamp the business case for a proposed merger that would effectively privatise education at Shetland College.

The Council gave its approval to the merger today, in a closed doors meeting, despite strong opposition from college staff, students and the wider community to the privatisation element of the proposal.

Commenting following the news of the Council’s decision, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “It is profoundly disappointing, and deeply concerning, that Shetland Islands Council has rubber-stamped the business case for this merger in a closed meeting today. The EIS has made the Council aware of the depth of opposition to the privatisation of education provision at Shetland College, including the presentation of a petition with hundreds of signatures from staff, students and other members of the Shetland community. Our members will be further angered that their opposition to the privatisation was not reflected at the Council meeting, despite previous assurances that their views would be properly represented.”

“The EIS has always supported the principle of the merger but had called for the Council to remove the recommendation to privatise the college as part of the merger, and to leave it to the Scottish Government to recommend the legal status of the college. It is, therefore, regrettable that the Council has decided to push ahead with its proposal, despite the very strong opposition to the privatisation of education in Shetland.”

Mr Flanagan added, “This is not the end of our campaign to protect public education at Shetland College. The matter now passes to the Scottish Government for a final decision, and the EIS will be lobbying Ministers to reject the dangerous precedent that privatising education at Shetland College would set. We will now await further information from the Scottish Funding Council on how the proposed merger would proceed, as we continue to build support for our campaign opposing the privatisation of education.”