Rona Campbell

MSc Sustainable Rural Development, 2017 content

MSc Sustainable Rural Development, 2017

"My aim was to plug the gaps in my knowledge to support the work I do at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). This course did the trick by giving me a greater appreciation of the history of rural development and current thinking in this area.  But it did much more than that because it allowed me to follow an interest in land reform and community land ownership.   My MSc thesis ‘What are the barriers to succession planning in community land trusts’ was an incredible experience, working with community land trusts on an issue which is tough but important for them. I was honoured to have the work selected for publication in the ‘eTIPS’ project. Seeing my work in book form was memorable.

The MSc study threw up lots of interesting things about resilience and sustainability in community land trusts and this is now the focus of my PhD. The fact I am pursuing a PhD is incredible and it's all down to the way this university makes work and study possible for students. I also have a superb supervisor, Professor Frank Rennie, who has supported and encouraged me every step of the way.  

My studies have led to me to doing cross sector work within HIE and my manager supports my ongoing studies with a flexible work pattern.  My research is fed back into the organisation and has allowed me to work across teams in HIE. My current role is focused on talent attraction, retention and return which is important for all parts of the economy.  The view from communities is vital to my day job and that is really what my studies do. But be in no doubt, I am following an interest, a passion which stems from childhood and recognising that life in a more rural environment is not remote, but where people want to be. Sustainable economic development recognises that and anything I learn through my research will hopefully add to the knowledge of the community land sector and therefore help to inform policy developments in a wider sense."

  • Mentoring
  • Happy to talk to prospective and current students

The advice I would give to students is do something you are interested in.  Do so knowing the university is set up to support and encourage you, with the flexibility to fit in with your work and the rest of your life. Be determined to be organised and give your studies a chance. Accept that as with everything, there will be ups and downs with studying again, particularly if like me decades have passed since any previous formal education.  This is your chance to enhance your life through learning in a supportive environment. It truly has been life changing for me. So do it!