Where your future means more 

Far a bheil ionnsachadh a' ciallachadh barrachd


Welcome to the first alumni newsletter of 2023! We hope you have had a great start to the year. It has been a good one for us so far at UHI and there's already loads of good news stories to share with you below. 

As always, we really value our alumni and hope that you will continue to connect with us and let us know how you are getting on.

Would you like to share your story? Please update-your-details to let us know what you've been up to since leaving UHI and inspire our current and future students! If you have any questions, suggestions or ideas, please just get​ in touch.

With best wishes from the advancement and alumni engagement team. 

Alison, Denise, Ellen, Sìne & Sophie 

UHI News!

Interim principal and vice-chancellor appointed for UHI

UHI has appointed Vicki Nairn as Interim Principal and Vice-Chancellor. She is an experienced executive leader who has worked extensively across the private and public sectors in the north of Scotland for nearly 20 years. 

Alastair MacColl, Chair of the UHI Court, said: “Vicki Nairn brings significant experience to this important interim role. She understands our partnership, and the communities we serve, very well, having lived and worked in the Highlands and Islands for nearly 20 years. 

Read more


Education Minister welcomes new UHI clinical simulation facility

UHI has opened a new clinical simulation suite in Inverness. Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, attended the launch event at the Centre for Health Science.


The simulation suite is made up of two rooms designed to replicate hospital wards, each containing hospital beds, medical observation systems and equipment. The facility offers live video streaming services to help students at other UHI campuses join in on the action and it can also be rented to public, private and third sector organisations.



UHI awarded £450k to enhance lab equipment

We're delighted to have been awarded £450k by the internationally recognised major philanthropic foundation, The Wolfson Foundation. The funding will allow UHI to enhance its range of mass spectrometry equipment, supporting our research in areas such as the pharmaceutical contamination of water, peatland resilience and muscle-wasting diseases.


Alison Wilson, Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at UHI, added: “We are extremely grateful that the Wolfson Foundation has chosen to support UHI in such a significant way. This is the first ever award Wolfson has made to UHI. It signals their confidence in what we are doing and our vision for the future."



ScotWind developers donate £900K to expand UHI schools STEM engagement programme

In January, the First Minister announced that a UHI initiative which promotes careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has received a £900k funding boost from the offshore wind industry.

Primary school children across the north of Scotland will enjoy enhanced lessons, enabling us to provide additional materials and training to teachers. Our outreach programme, currently in its sixth year, is now able to extend reach to schools in Argyll and Bute, Moray, Orkney, Perthshire, Shetland and the Western Isles.

Read more


Islands Growth deal will release total investment of £393 million

An agreement to invest £100 million in the future economic prosperity of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides has been signed by UK and Scottish Government Ministers and the Council Leaders of the three island groups.

Up to 1,300 jobs and £393 million of investment is anticipated to result from the signing of the transformative Islands Growth Deal between UK Government, Scottish Government, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Shetland Islands Council, and Orkney Islands Council.

Over a ten-year period, the Islands Growth Deal will invest in 16 projects and programmes that capitalise on the Islands’ unique assets. These are built around three strategic themes of low carbon, supporting growth and future industries, and thriving sustainable communities.

Read more


UHI students help bring lost history of remote Highland glen to life in major new audio series

'Hidden in Plain Sight' brings back to life the centuries of buried and forgotten history of Balblair, a lost township, just a stone’s throw from the road between Ullapool and Inverness at Inverlael.

The series weaves together expertise from UHI academics, including recent PhD graduate Darroch Bratt and Dr Elizabeth Ritchie and Dr Rachel Davies of the UHI Centre of History.  

The cast also features HNC Acting and Performance student Juliet Kelly and Kady Lyon, a BA (Hons) Drama and Production student, who were both cast as historical characters.

Read more

Listen to Hidden in Plain Sight as a podcast on your usual platforms


Plans have been approved to allow Scottish peatbog to apply for Unesco World Heritage status. 


Our Environmental Research Institute has been part of developing the bid for a 494,210-acre area of peatbog, lochs and bog pools stretching across Caithness and Sutherland to be added to UNESCO’s world heritage sites.


Often referred to as the Flow Country, if granted world heritage status it will join the six other Scottish sites; the Antonine Wall, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, St Kilda and the Forth Bridge. The bid is expected to be submitted early 2023, with a response in 2024.


UHI Blog!

To mark World Gaelic Week, Dr Mandy Haggith, a lecturer in creative writing and literature at UHI Inverness, and UHI alumnae, shares insights into the Gaelic tree alphabet and a project which brings together forestry and literature students.



As part of Green Week earlier this month, MA health and wellbeing student Sandra Macrae has blogged 10 tips to support green health, highlighting the positive impact that nature can have on our health and wellbeing, including taking up ‘plogging’ and making your own hedgehog café! 



With the Up Helly Aa season in full swing, over on our UHI blog, UHI Shetland's Selina May Miller discusses the Up Helly Aa tradition and what it means to Shetland's communities.



UHI Alumni Stories!

Stephanie McKenna
BSc Hons Psychology, UHI Inverness, 2022

A huge congratulations to Stephanie McKenna, who has won the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture at this year's Fort William Mountain Festival sponsored by UHI West Highland!

Graduating in 2022, Stephanie studied psychology at UHI Inverness and was recognised for her volunteering work and founding the women's mountain bike group 'Fort William Foxes'. An inspirational campaigner who works tirelessly to empower the Fort William community to engage with nature, the environment and outdoor activities.

Her final-year dissertation on the psychological impact of wild swimming also won The Jonathan Sime Award from the University of Surrey! 

You can watch a great video of Stephanie passionately talking her local community here! 


Meet our newest alumni ambassador!

Francesca Molinari
BSc Hons, Marine Science with Arctic Studies, 2020, SAMS

"After graduating from SAMS I enrolled on a Master in ecotoxicology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden which I completed last year. I am currently a first year PhD student at the University of Exeter. 

I had an incredible time as a SAMS student. I took every opportunity to participate in the student life and really loved what I was studying and the hands-on and informal way in which marine science was thought. The four years I spent at SAMS and the people I met during this time really shaped me as a scientist and set me on the right path to succeed in my career. 

I would like to give back to this great community of scientists and peers by helping motivate new students to undertake a career in marine science and encourage them to find opportunities to further their career and fuel their interests."


We have spaces for alumni ambassadors who studied at UHI Argyll, UHI Moray, UHI Shetland, UHI West Highland, HTC or Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. 

Our alumni are our best ambassadors. We are building a community of alumni ambassadors to be a key resource for prospective students to draw upon when making decisions about applying. They can cover expectations of studying at UHI, what to expect, work-life balance, etc. and relay their own experiences of studying here.  

Alumni ambassadors can also play an important role in preparing current students for the world of work whilst expanding the network of connected graduates around the world.

Interested? Read more!


The Moray School of Art held their first alumni workshop earlier this month. There was lots of productive discussion around how to establish and keep meaningful links. 

If you're thinking of setting up your own alumni group, perhaps locally to your own region or your own course, then let us know and we can see how we can help!


Laura Harvey
BSc (Hons) Psychology, 2015, UHI Inverness

“After graduation I continued as a support worker with Scottish Autism, supporting vulnerable adults to live life to the full. In 2017 I was promoted to management and over the next four years, managed many different services in the West of Scotland, including opening a brand-new housing support service in 2020/21. This was a huge achievement and I learned so much.

In 2021 I took a leap of faith and changed careers to take up an assistant managers position with a new residential childcare provider. Working with children was always a dream of mine and this felt like the perfect opportunity to make a difference to children living with trauma and developmental issues, which was something that interested me throughout my degree.

I juggled studies with being a full-time mum (my youngest was born at the end of 3rd year!) and I continue to juggle being a mum and working full time, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ll never forget the support UHI provided during my degree, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it - anything is possible if you work hard and have the right people cheering you on!"


Shirley Catto
HNC Healthcare Practice, 2008, UHI Moray

Congratulations to Shirley who has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Nurse Award!
"UHI Moray shaped the nurse I am today. My advice to anyone thinking of a career change is look at the courses available and take that leap. Who knows where it may lead" - Shirley
Now a Neurology Nurse Specialist at Seafield Hospital in Buckie, Shirley was among 20 other community nurses selected to complete the nine-month programme, introduced for nurses who are considered experts in their field. Daughter Libby has followed in her mum’s footsteps too, completing the HNC Healthcare Practice with us and is now working as a Nurse at Dr Gray's Hospital.
Read the full blog



Interested in teaching?

Find out how to study part-time to become a primary or secondary school teacher from anywhere in Scotland

Supported by the Scottish Government, UHI's new two-year PGDE Primary and Secondary (English medium)* programmes are unique in Scotland and aimed at graduates wishing to follow a part-time route to become a teacher.

Study begins with Monday evening online seminars and one day per week in school, and build up to five-day placements in local schools, between April and June of year two.

To find out more, please reserve your place at our Teams webinar on Thursday 9 March at 7.00pm.

The event will be hosted by Professor Morag Redford and Judith Munro, programme leader for PGDE programmes and include:

  • An introduction to UHI's teacher education programmes
  • What's new about the two-year PGDE Primary and Secondary (English medium) part-time programmes
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Audience questions

*Please note that these courses are subject to accreditation by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

To find out more visit:

Primary (English Medium) (Part-time) PDGE

Secondary (English Medium) (Part-time) PDGE

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