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University of the Highlands and Islands becomes Scotland’s newest university

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig today welcomed the establishment of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) as Scotland’s newest university.

Following confirmation from the Privy Council, the achievement was announced by Professor Matthew MacIver CBE, Chair of the UHI Court and by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP.

UHI comprises thirteen colleges, specialist institutions and research centres spread across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, which is located on the Isle of Skye, offers higher education provision taught entirely through the medium of Scottish Gaelic.

Chair of the Board of Directors at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Sherriff Roddy John Macleod said:’This is an historic day for the Highlands and Islands and the culmination of what has been a long, hard campaign, fought with distinction by many people.  It is appropriate that I, in particular, should acknowledge the role of my predecessor as Chair of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the late Dr. Farquhar Macintosh, in that campaign.  Farquhar was involved in the campaign for a University of the Highlands and Islands since the 1960s, when Stirling was preferred as the location for the next Scottish university.  He would have been proud to see this day and it is up to those of us who have succeeded him to ensure that the new university lives up to his vision.

‘I would also like to pay tribute to the current Board of Governors of what is now, officially, the University of the Highlands and Islands, under the chairmanship of Professor Matthew MacIver, and, very especially, to Professor James Fraser, Principal of the University, who, together with his team, has been hugely instrumental in getting this project over the finishing line.

‘Sabhal Mòr Ostaig looks forward to playing its role in the success of the UHI and in ensuring that it turns out to be a place of learning of the highest standard which does justice to the area which gives it its name.’

Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig said:’Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was at the forefront of the campaign to create a University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and the realisation of that aspiration today is gratifying and pleasing.

‘Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is one of five colleges within the UHI partnership that is island based, a feature of the University of the Highlands and Islands that makes it distinctive within the university sector in the UK.  Another aspect that distinguishes UHI is the fact that one of the thirteen partner colleges, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, is the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture and is unique in higher education in delivering all courses and being run entirely through the medium of Gaelic.’

Dr Donnie Munro, who was elected as the first Rector of UHI in 1998, welcomed the news:’The communities of the Highlands and Islands have long aspired to have a university of their own and I am thrilled to see that aspiration met.  It is only right that the young people of the Highlands have the opportunity to progress to higher education and to stay in their communities and to contribute to them.

‘The new University of the Highlands and Islands has enormous potential, through its unique dispersed collegiate model, to create real centres of excellence and become an institution of international significance reflecting the wealth and diversity of the region’s vast human, cultural, environmental and ecological resource.’

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