Photo of some students studying at Sabhal Mòr OstaigA record number of full-time students will study at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig this year as more that one hundred students have enrolled for the various courses on offer, all of which are taught through the medium of Gaelic.

The new term began last week (07.09.05) and as well as offering a full programme of certificate, diploma and degree level qualifications, Scotland's Gaelic College (which is situated in Sleat on Skye) will for the first time deliver a taught post-graduate qualification in Material Culture and the Environment.

A total of 111 students have enrolled in full-time education through the college this year. Most will be resident at the College (with some coming from as far away as North America and Europe), while others will take part in distance learning through the College as part of their course.

John Norman MacLeod, the College's Head of Studies, said:

"There are a number of reasons for the increase: a great deal of effort goes into student recruitment, there are also new courses commencing such as the post-graduate course in Material Culture and the Environment, we are providing distance learning opportunities to students based at Inverness College and the Cùrsa Inntrigidh or the Gaelic Access Course continues to provide new students. Altogether we have more than one hundred full-time students including those who are enrolled on year 1 of the Gaelic degree programmes at Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle in Islay. The key is that there are more learning opportunities, particularly through the College's involvement in the UHI Millennium Institute."

This year's student body is set to be as diverse as ever with students from England, Germany, Belgium and North America as well as Scotland itself. The students also range from school leavers to mature students.

The post-graduate course in Material Culture and the Environment is taught through the medium of Gaelic and gives students an opportunity to gain an understanding of the social and economic situation in the Highlands and Islands as they study the material culture and environment of the area. It is a part-time course that lasts three years and is delivered through distance learning and online.

In addition to the new post-graduate course, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig will this year run a pilot writing and translation course, 'Cuir Peann ri Pàipear'. A total of 25 people have enrolled for the course ('Put Pen to Paper') this year according to Mr MacLeod. The course is delivered online with support from college lecturers and is for people who are fluent in Gaelic, but feel they need to improve their writing and translation skills.

As Sabhal Mòr continues to grow the UHI Millennium Institute, of which Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a part, is on the way to official university status. UHI Millenium Institute in conjunction with Aberdeen University, Edinburgh University and Strathclyde University are working towards achieving university title. The three universities will give guidance and support to UHI in delivering a research development plan.

It is expected that the three universities will become corporate members of UHI and that UHI and all its constituent parts (including SMO) will have university status by 2007. Research already features prominently at Sabhal Mòr with research organisations such as the National Centre for Migration Studies and Lèirsinn based at the college, as well as PhD students who are carrying out their research under the auspices of Aberdeen University and Sabhal Mòr.