Wednesday, 9 February 2011

University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

Once upon a time, when you put the search term 'UHI' into google, you might have been left with a lot of results about urban heat islands. Now, searching for 'UHI' (from within the UK) will lead you towards the University of the Highlands and Islands website. It's been a long time coming but it only officially became a University in February 2011.

Why do I care, and why am I writing about this? Because I'm from the Highlands, I studied the structure and location of UHI during my MA dissertation research and - most importantly - there has never been a University in this area before. The Highland local authority area is not quite the same as the area covered by UHI, but even on its own it is bigger than Belgium (coincidentally, where I'm going today) - so it meant that young people often had to leave if they wanted to go to University. Now they have a choice.

The University is comprised of 13 different institutions, spread throughout the Highlands and Islands, from Shetland in the far north to Perth in the south. The range of courses is slightly different from other universities and it includes education in Gaelic too.

I'm very happy about this development, though in the history of higher education in Scotland and the UK it could have arrived at a better time!