A new education dawn for the Western Isles

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A NEW era has begun for the University of the Highlands and Islands now it has been granted full university status.

Thirteen partners, including Lews Castle College in Stornoway (and Benbecula campus) come under the UHI umbrella and a simultaneous celebration of this historic day was marked across the country from Shetland in the north to Argyll in the south.

In Stornoway a flag raising ceremony took place on the Lews Castle College campus with staff and students delighted to herald in the new area with the unveiling of the new university flag - and given the maritime heritage in the islands - this was accompanied by nautical flags which signal ‘We Are Underway’.

The flag raising ritual echoed ceremonies in 1953 when Lews Castle College opened its doors and at the opening of the new Stornoway campus in 2000.

Talking about the status for UHI Principal of Lews Castle College, David Green, said: “The new university will offer an increasingly compelling alternative to those who prefer to stay here or to move here in order to take advantage of top quality educational opportunities, often in specialist areas of the curriculum and using the best blend of learning technologies and techniques to enhance the student experience, career opportunities and the development of essential life skills for the twenty first century.”

The Principal added that with Stornoway now being a ‘university town’ that the local economy would benefit through increased student numbers, the attraction of research investment, and the financial value of spin-off commerical and support businesses, with high value jobs for young people.

The college has been discussing with local organisations the provision of a greater number and diversity of accommodation for students attending courses and residential events locally, and the infrastructure that will be needed to support this.

Mr Green concluded: “We have every confidence that the new university, able at last to compete on level terms with universities across Scotland, the UK and the world, will make a profound and long-lasting difference to local communities and economies.”