Welcome to the May edition of the UHI alumni newsletter!  May is an exciting month for us because it's when we open nominations for our alumni awards. And for the first time - we will be awarding three! If you know anyone deserving, please nominate them below.

It's fantastic that we have so many great alumni stories to share this month  - with so many different themes from across the whole UHI partnership. If you'd like to share your story - please get in t​ouch.

2022 Alumni Awards now open!

Our Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions and achievements of our alumni.  Pictured is our 2021 winner Lorna McNee who won the award in recognition of her professional success which saw her receive a Michelin Star just five months into her first head chef role, being the first solo female chef in Scotland to be awarded a star in 20 years! 

This year we are delighted to announce there will be three awards! Nominations are now open for: 

1. UHI Alumni Impact Award 

Recognising alumni who demonstrate notable success and achievement in their professional career and/or a significant involvement and impact in their community.

2. UHI Alumni Disruptor for Good Award 

Recognising alumni who demonstrate innovation and a commitment to pioneering changes that make a difference to global and local challenges such as environmental sustainability.

3. UHI Alumni Ambassador Award 

Recognising alumni who make an ongoing commitment and contribution to UHI.

Please note:

  • Nominees must be former students of UHI.
  • Nominations must be submitted by midnight on Sunday, 3rd July 2022.
  • Anyone is welcome to nominate including alumni, students and staff. Self-nominations are also welcomed.
  • Nominees may be asked for permission to use their nomination as a case study. 
  • Winners will be expected to take part in any relevant publicity, including photographs and attendance at a presentation event.
  • Winners will be encouraged to take part in a least one activity in the year of their award such as providing a feature story, case study or video.
  • All nominations will be treated in confidence.
  • Should you have any queries, please email us.

Alumni news

Thanks to everyone who shares their news with us! We love hearing what you're up to! 

 Bekah MacLeod

Bekah MacLeod
BA Gaelic and Media Studies, 2018, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

Congratulations to Bekah MacLeod who has recently been announced as BBC ALBA's new CBBC presenter!

Calling on the experience she gained at UHI through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s TV course and from her degree in Gaelic and Media Studies, Bekah thrived in the studio environment. Currently living in Glasgow, she has also spent time elsewhere in the BBC, undertaking an MG ALBA-sponsored student placement at Radio nan Gàidheal in Stornoway.

Speaking after her TV debut and explaining her route to working in broadcasting, Bekah said:

“I’ve had a few different jobs and never really knew what I wanted to do, but I’ve always loved being on stage and performing. I did some extensive training on my TV course where we covered a little bit of everything over two years. Day one in the studio was fun - but it’s quite different with the camera pointed at you! Between my placement at Radio nan Gàidheal and my early career with BBC ALBA, they have really helped me confirm that working in the media is the perfect place for me.”


Frank To

Frank To
PDA Teaching Practice in Scotland's Colleges, 2017, Perth College UHI

Frank To, an art lecturer at UHI Inverness, was asked to exhibit at the prestigious Society of Graphic Fine Art annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London in May. This was less than six months after selling all his work in the Royal Society of British Artists exhibition!

His unique technique uses gunpowder and coloured gunpowder made from illegal firearms. Frank said:

“I am continuously pushing the boundaries out there in the art world on contemporary art. I want to show what I teach is what I do, and this inspires my students who are the next upcoming generation of Scottish contemporary artists.”

Frank’s art is also attracting international recognition, collected by actor Sir Patrick Stewart and New York-based collector Michel Witmer, who hangs his paintings alongside those of Picasso, Dine and Warhol.


 Bekah MacLeod

George Gunn
BSc (Hons) Geography, 2020, UHI Inverness

Congratulations to alumni ambassador George who was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society earlier this year in recognition of his innovative research and professional practice.

During his time at UHI, George researched the urban heat island effect in Inverness, which was the first of its kind to be conducted in the city, and one of few similar studies globally. He furthered his research interest in urban meteorology and climate change at the University of Reading, before returning to the Highlands to take up a new post as Climate Change Strategy Officer at Moray Council. He said: 

It is a privilege to have been elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. My journey as a geographer was shaped by the endless opportunities that I was provided with as a student. The Highlands are the best place on earth to study geography, and you’ll find excellent support to do so at UHI.”

In his role as alumni ambassador, George has returned to UHI on several occasions as a guest speaker and to support students with career development and opportunities.


Interested in becoming an ambassador? Find out more here!

Rachel McClure

Rachel McClure
BA (Hons) Fine Art Textiles, 2020, Moray School of Art

Congratulations to Rachel, an Elgin-based artist, who was joint winner of this year's prestigious Glenfiddich Residency Award presented at the Royal Scottish Academy's New Contemporaries Exhibitions in Edinburgh for recent graduates. 

Rachel is the first artist from UHI to win the award, and joins other artists from around the world at the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence programme at Dufftown distiller this summer. 

Find out more about Rachel and her work on her website.


 Bekah MacLeod

Amy Rayner
BA (Hons) Popular Music, 2014, Perth College UHI

Amy Rayner, and her band Go To Girl, were recently crowned winners of the international ‘Player Plus Sessions’ competition with Fender judged by industry professionals such as Nile Rodgers of Chic and Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice. Go To Girl are an indie pop quartet based in central Scotland. Their catchy combination of rhythmic guitar riffs, soulful vocal harmonies and synth pop vibes have cemented their reputation as a band with a contagious energy and hooks for days.

Their prize of studio time enabled them to record their latest single ‘Twenty Something’ which is their ode to their generation – available now to stream and download!


 Bekah MacLeod

Blair Watson
BSc (Hons) Marine Science, 2017, SAMS 

Have a read of Blair's alumni story, where he gives an honest and insightful account of his experience studying marine science in Oban; what his journey has been like since graduating and how his degree and networks at SAMS helped towards securing his exciting Project Officer position working in marine science outreach and communications at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth!


Dr Marc Chivers
PhD, 2017, UHI Shetland

Marc has recently published his first book called ‘Shetland's Boats: Origin, evolution and use’. The book is the culmination of his PhD research and explores the central role vernacular boats played in everyday Shetland life, meeting the boatbuilders and the people whose way of life was dependent upon, these seaworthy craft.

Watch an interview with Marc here, where he talks about his new book and provides insight into the central role Shetland's unique open boats played in everyday Shetland life.


Also, in 2018 Marc teamed up with fellow UHI alum, archaeologist Dr Esther Renwick (PhD, 2017, Orkney College UHI) to launch Moder Dy CIC, a community interest company that works to raise awareness of Shetland’s eroding maritime heritage by engaging and supporting local communities through involving them in hands-on multi-disciplinary research projects.

Find out more about Moder Dy.

UHI news

World-leading research results show importance of UHI community connection

Nearly three quarters of UHI research has been classified as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in a new expert review undertaken to assess the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

Research in health and nursing, earth systems and environmental and marine sciences, archaeology, education, area studies, Gaelic and history were all recognised by the Research Excellence Framework.

This latest assessment looked at a range of aspects of the work of 117 researchers across the UHI partnership. It examined the impact of their research, demonstrating how targeted research at UHI can support sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity in our communities, as well as addressing some of Scotland’s biggest challenges.

UHI principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Todd Walker said:

This is a great result for UHI and recognises we can more than hold our own in a very competitive research environment. We have achieved and exceeded our expectations, building on our success in 2014. Our staff, students and communities should be very proud of UHI which is delivering a high standard of research locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.


Fresh look for UHI signals shift to where learning means more

The UHI partnership revealed a new visual identity in March to strengthen engagement with communities and market its offerings more effectively through a connected and recognisable brand family.

As well as new approaches to photography and design, the change features a new logo across campuses, based on the letters UHI, and an embedded plus sign and strapline: ‘where learning means more’.

Ten years on from establishing university status, UHI has built a strong foundation to move into a new strategic chapter founded on a ‘Daring to be different’ ethos, affirming its role as a regionally focused partnership of independent colleges and research institutions covering the largest geographical area of any campus-based facility in the UK.

Read more

New centre to unlock algae potential

A laboratory based at SAMS is helping to unlock the huge potential of algae as a sustainable resource for new products and environmental solutions after opening a new £681,641 centre.

The Culture Collection for Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) holds around 3,000 strains of microscopic organisms such as marine and freshwater algae, cyanobacteria and protozoa, as well as some seaweeds and seaweed pathogens. The nearly 100-year-old collection, one of the oldest and most biodiverse in the world, will be at the core of a new centre for algae production and analysis, the CCAP-ARIES (Algae Research, Innovation and Environmental Science) Centre. The state-of-the-art facility will help scientists around the world to discover new products and medicines and to understand the natural world in a changing climate.

Read more


UHI seeks community views on its Islands Strategy

UHI has launched a public survey to find out how well the strategic themes of its Islands Strategy aligns with and can support community and economic development priorities for the islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides.

The online survey is open to members of the community, public bodies, businesses and the voluntary sector on the three islands until 6 June 2022. 

Click here to take part in the survey.


UHI set to launch NextGen HNC Horticulture

The NextGen HNC Horticulture will be adaptable and flexible to respond to the needs of a constantly changing employment environment and will enable students to develop subject-specific technical skills in preparation for employment in the land-based sector.

UHI horticultural students are lucky enough to receive tuition in some of Scotland’s most stunning gardens, such as Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute, and this NextGen HNC will ensure they are well equipped to become industry leaders of the future.

Find out more about applying to the UHI NextGen HNC in Horticulture

Alumni benefits

UHI alumni have access to a range of benefits and services.

If you can offer a discount to your fellow alumni or have any suggestions to enhance the range of benefits we offer - we'd love to he​​ar from you!

Careers support for life

Our Careers team are here to support you to develop and manage your future career. You can book guidance appointments, search the Job Shop, book a mock interview and upload your CV or application form for feedback.

Simply register with FutureMe.

10% discount on postgraduate study

A 10% discount on the tuition fee is available for all taught postgraduate courses and postgraduate research programmes for alumni who have graduated with an undergraduate or postgraduate taught degree.

Find out more

Alumni access to e-Resources

You can access a range of e-Resources for free to assist with your lifelong learning after leaving university.

To access, please register here.

Where learning means more | Far a bheil ionnsachadh a' ciallachadh barrachd


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