Merger background



Collage of three photos: a student rock climbing, an aerial view of the coastline, and a stag.

On 1st August 2023, UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland merged to form UHI North, West and Hebrides.

In early 2021, the boards of management at UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland commissioned a review into their long-term strategic future.

This resulted in the creation of a Partnership Board to explore merger.

An initial consultation took place with staff, students, and the public in early 2022. Feedback from the initial consultation has supported the development of the full merger proposal and business case, which was originally published on 8 August 2022. A merger summary document was also produced.

A 10-week public consulation ran from 8th August 2022 to 14 October 2022. This consisted of:

  • Online information events
  • Drop-ins with our merger coordinator across campuses and learning centres
  • A survey for staff, students, and the public
  • Comment cards on campuses and learning centres
  • Staff focus groups
  • Let's blether sessions for students
  • External stakeholder engagement events and meetings

Consultation feedback was collated and analysed independently by Ashbrook Research and Consultancy.

The boards of management at UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland met in November 2022 and voted unanimously in favour of merger.

The merger proposal and business case was submitted to the Scottish Government and approved by Graeme Dey MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Jenny Gilruth MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and ratified through the Scottish Parliament in June 2023. 

UHI North, West and Hebrides celebrated its legal vesting date on 1st August 2023, with launch activities following in September 2023.

Name and identity content

Name and identity

As part of the merger process, consultation also took place on on college name and identity. More than 200 people provided feedback.

We know how important local identity is, so finding a name for our merged college that aligns with the UHI brand and captures the large geographical area our college covers was challenging.

We consulted with staff, students, prospective students, employers, influencers, and other key external stakeholders from the three college areas.

Through the consultation, there was overwhelming support for our rationale – what we wanted to achieve – and this has been the basis for our decision making.

  • A name that connects all three colleges
  • A name that is simple, bold, and aspirational
  • A name that retains a strong link to our place/geographic location
  • An identity which complements the external marketing effort and aligns with the UHI brand.
  • An identity which celebrates the Gaelic and English-speaking heritage and tradition.

There was also overwhelming support for celebrating our local sub-identities through the branding.

We consulted on three options:

  • UHI Atlantic
  • UHI North West
  • UHI North, West and Hebrides

We also had almost 100 suggestions to consider. Our Partnership Board met in late November 2022 to consider all the feedback and decide on the name for our merged college.

We chose UHI North, West and Hebrides because of it was inclusive and celebrated our unique local identities. Our decision was also backed by the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA).