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University of the Highlands and Islands seeks new principal and vice-chancellor looking for change, challenge and opportunity

University of the Highlands and Islands seeks new principal and vice-chancellor looking for change, challenge and opportunity

Steve Thomson

The University of the Highlands and Islands is looking for an outstanding candidate to lead one of the most interesting, and challenging, developments in post-16 education in recent decades.

Heading a partnership of 13 institutions spread across 45,000 square kilometres, its new principal and vice-chancellor will not only have responsibility for higher education and research, but will be a key player in the development of the university as the new strategic delivery body for further education in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

The University of the Highlands and Islands provides access to undergraduate and postgraduate study and research opportunities through a distinctive federal partnership of 13 colleges and research institutions, with a diverse and region-specific curriculum.

With almost 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled directly and 33,000 further education students across its partnership, the university is at a significant point in its history, with the opportunity to mould and innovate for the future of post-school education in Scotland and beyond.

The University of the Highlands and Islands uses technology to engage with students dispersed across a wide geographic area, enabling them to learn with and from each other, facilitated and supported by an equally dispersed academic faculty.

This blended learning model has attracted international interest and recognition. Increasingly, this expertise is being used to engage with students based far beyond the Highlands and Islands.

Experienced executive headhunters Aspen People have been engaged to lead the search for the new principal and vice-chancellor and are already compiling a dossier of respected leaders and academic figures in locations as far afield as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for the role.

Aspen co-founder and director Donogh O’Brien said: “The next principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands will be an outstanding individual with distinctive leadership qualities and considerable vision and intellectual gravitas.

“The Highlands and Islands of Scotland cover a sixth of the entire land mass of Great Britain and there is a unique set of challenges associated with heading up an institution which is spread across such a huge geographical area.

“It is therefore vital we attract someone who can balance organisational leadership, ambassadorial experience and managerial acuity with credibility within the academic environment.

“While it is entirely possible such an individual is already based in the UK & Ireland, the role requires engaging creatively with potential partners and sourcing new revenue streams on an international level, it may therefore be necessary to look further afield to source the right candidate.”

The new principal and vice-chancellor will replace James Fraser, who led the university to the achievement of title only two years ago, and who retires at the end of the year.

Steve Thomson, incoming chair of the university court explains: “The University of the Highlands and Islands is one of the most interesting, and challenging, developments in post-16 education in recent decades. Under recent Scottish Government legislation, in addition to higher education, the university will assume responsibility for all further education within its region, creating an integrated tertiary institution.

“The Highlands and Islands is a great place to live, to study and to do business. It is known worldwide for its outstanding scenery, for its distinctive heritage and cultures, for its recreational opportunities and for the quality of life which the region offers.

“Modern communications, both physical and virtual, are addressing the historical isolation of the region and its communities and traditional and new industries are underpinning an economic resurgence.

“This is an exciting and decisive time for the university, which is still in the early years of its development but also at the leading edge of post-16 education.

“The new Principal and Vice-Chancellor must lead the institution through this period of significant change and opportunity; providing both academic and managerial leadership and also acting as an ambassador for the university within the region, within further and higher education and throughout the world at large.

“This will require someone with substantial senior experience in a complex organisation and with the academic standing that would be expected of such a role. The faint hearted need not apply.”

Ends

Issued by The BIG Partnership on behalf of Aspen People

For more information, please contact:

Gavin Cameron, The BIG Partnership                      0141 333 9585 / 07968 495089

gavin.cameron@bigpartnership.co.uk

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