University recognises student support excellence
The University of the Highlands and Islands has announced the results of its first ever Student Support Initiative Awards. Introduced this year, the awards celebrate innovative projects which have enhanced the experience of its students.
This year’s winning entry was the Essential Student Skills Project, an initiative which developed a portal of online materials to help students throughout their time at the university. The resource includes information on being an effective learner, using university technologies, preparing for exams and developing employability skills. Created by the university’s Educational Development Unit, the portal was designed so it can be viewed on a variety of devices, from PCs and tablet computers to mobile phones.
A project which enabled science students to develop their public engagement skills at the 2014 Belladrum Tartan Heart festival was highly commended in the awards. Staff from the university’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) team worked with the event organisers to give students the opportunity to be “science buskers” at the festival. By performing experiments for the crowds, the students showcased their expertise, promoted STEM subjects and developed their communications skills and team work.
Other projects which were commended and highly commended included an anonymous student feedback scheme at Shetland College UHI, an initiative to redevelop the university’s additional support needs record system and a ‘review of the year’ video produced for Shetland College UHI’s graduation ceremony.
Dr Iain Morrison, the university’s dean of students, introduced the awards scheme. He said: “The judges were blown away by the high quality, innovative and evidence-based projects which were put forward. In a way, it’s a shame there had to be one winner, since these initiatives demonstrate that students all over this university are benefiting from fantastic support and development. Students don’t just value high quality learning and teaching; they value the life-enhancing opportunities that are available and the resources they need if they encounter tougher times. This award gives our university the chance to highlight one of our major strengths: how we look after the people who mean most to us, our students.”
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “The Student Support Initiative Awards are a fitting showcase for the innovative talent inherent in the University of the Highlands and Islands. The winning projects are not only first-class examples of ground-breaking initiatives which will enhance the teaching, academic support and personal development of its students, but also recognise and reflect the University of the Highlands and Islands’ commitment to improving and providing the best possible student experience. Well done to the award winners and to all who took part and to the University of the Highlands and Islands for pioneering these awards.”
John Buchan, vice-president of the University of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (UHISA), added: “Student Associations strive to ensure that all students have a well-rounded experience to complement their studies. UHISA feels that a scheme which recognises the efforts of student support teams within the university is a positive and commendable introduction.”