Inverness College UHI staff crowned winners at Student Association Awards
Two staff at Inverness College UHI have received important accolades at the fifth annual University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Students’ Association Awards.
Head of research and postgraduate development at Inverness College UHI, Melanie Smith (44), from Balloch, scooped the award for Best Dissertation/Research Supervisor while Kate Hayes, programme leader (quantity surveying courses), was crowned Most Inspiring Lecturer.
Melanie was praised for her approachability, encouragement and enthusiasm for research. Although she took ill late last year, students noted that Melanie did not let it affect her service and many were inspired by her attitude towards recovery.
One student explained: “Despite being in the process of recovery, Melanie provided feedback and guidance regularly. She is available round the clock and gives priority to sorting out my problems and providing suggestions.”
Another remarked: “Her interest and enthusiasm for her work, my work and the development of research in Inverness and the Highlands exhausts me even thinking about it. She has helped me to shape and execute an exciting PhD project as well as aid my growth as a professional.”
Voters commended Kate for going the extra mile to ensure her students have every chance to succeed. Many commented that Kate was extremely encouraging and would go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure her students succeeded.
She was also singled out as an excellent role model for women in construction. One student said: “As a woman working in a male dominated industry, I have often found it difficult to deal with the gender stereotypes of women. Kate has always taught me that there is a space for women in construction and I should never accept discrimination.
“Her advice has made me stronger and I hope to pass on her message to other young women as I have recently become a Construction Ambassador and hope to visit schools to promote construction. This is an opportunity I would not have pursued if I hadn’t had the support from Kate.”
The UHI Students’ Association looks to recognise and reward staff who go out of their way to enhance student experience. Each year the awards are judged by a student panel which decides winners by reviewing specific student feedback.
Speaking of her award, Melanie Smith said: “I was genuinely surprised and delighted to receive the award, particularly as there are so many excellent research supervisors in UHI who are equally deserving.
“It means a great deal to be rewarded by our students, they are at the heart of the institution and their opinion matters. It is especially meaningful to me to get this award in this year as I was off for two months due to serious illness and my students were especially supportive, thoughtful and forbearing during this time. Providing an inspiring and innovative environment for research students is essential and will be at the core of the Inverness College UHI Research Hub at the new campus.”
Kate Hayes also commented: “I'm flattered and delighted to receive the award. I'm always inspired by our students' professionalism, work ethic and support for each other.
“I'd particularly like to pay tribute to this year's Quantity Surveying graduates who kept faith with the course and the construction industry during the long years of the recession and now find themselves members of one of the most in-demand professions in the UK and across the world.”
Organised by UHISA, the UHI Students’ Association, the awards recognise excellence in eight categories. The other winners were:
• Best support staff, Jenny MacDonald - Argyll College UHI
• Best personal academic tutor, Tina Riddell - Perth College UHI
• Student representative of the year, Aisling Goodey - Perth College UHI
• Most engaging video conference tutor, Gill Berkeley - Moray College UHI
• Best assessment feedback, Annie Lamb - Moray College UHI
The University of the Highlands and Islands was one of the first institutions to work with the Higher Education Academy and National Union of Students to introduce student-led teaching awards. They have now been adopted throughout most of the United Kingdom.
UHISA President Rachel Parker said: “It is truly inspiring to judge the UHISA awards. They celebrate excellence within the university, enabling students to commend those whose dedication has benefited them in their time studying here and they demonstrate how much students value being able to provide positive feedback. I would like to congratulate all the winners as students have such a vital role in the function of a university and we appreciate this opportunity to reward those that have made the experience of students an excellent one.”
Dr Iain Morrison, Dean of Students at the university, said: “These awards are highly valued by the recipients because they are chosen by the people who matter most to them: our students. Each winner, and the many other nominees, should be proud of the transformative influence of their work that has been recognised by learners in our region.”
The winners will all receive a trophy and certificate.
For more information about the University of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association please visit www.uhisa.org.uk.