Countryside Skills NQ Level 4
What is special about this course?
Countryside Skills is a fast paced, exciting, enjoyable and very practical multi skills course focusing on rural land practices. Based on the Isle of Skye, this course delivers holistic training and includes highly regarded industry awards in several disciplines, equipping you well for a rewarding outdoor job, or going on to more specialist study.
The course aims to take a broad approach, introducing you to many different topics, and with a balance of both practical and theoretical work, you will acquire a good range of skills, with a thorough understanding of how and when they should be applied.
During your course, we introduce you to using a range of digital technologies, which will help you get the most from your course and at the same time develop your digital skills. Find out more about key computing skills and essential student skills.
No formal qualifications are necessary, however you should have a keen interest in working in the outdoors, and enthusiasm to embrace the practical skills and principles of land use. You must be reasonably fit, happy to work in all weathers, and able to safely follow instruction in the use of tools and machinery. Basic literacy and numeracy is required, and students should be at least 16. Mature students are very welcome. All candidates will attend an interview.
You will investigate areas from habitat studies and gardening to estate maintenance, forestry skills and working with livestock. You will also develop your core and essential skills while in class and at work.
It includes the opportunity to gain valuable industry awards in:
- dry stone walling
- outdoor first aid
- tree inspection
- chainsaw operation
- quad biking
More than just your subject
Imagine coming out of college with your subject qualification PLUS a portfolio of skills endorsed by employers. That’s exactly what you will get with us. Our skills+ portfolio is part of your full-time course. You will develop skills in digital literacy, entrepreneurship, metaskills, work-readiness, net-zero, wellbeing, and the skills you need for your future aspirations. Our skills+ portfolio becomes your portfolio to take away with you. Whilst studying your subject you will build your skills+ portfolio and gain confidence and resilience along the way.
How will I study my course?
- Full Time
You normally need to commit to 18 hours per week over 3 days: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The course is practical and hands-on, so much of the time will be spent out in the field around Skye and Lochalsh and occasionally further afield.
On scheduled course days, our base will be Broadford college centre for classroom-based tasks, access to computers, tools, equipment and PPE.
How long will my course last?28 Weeks
How will I be assessed?
Assessment is by successful completion of a wide range of practical tasks, plus classroom based written assessments and presentations.
Where can I study my course?
Please note, UHI West Highland will be changing its name to UHI North, West and Hebrides in August 2023. This will not impact on your choice of course or how and where you will study.
Most students have their course fees paid as this is a full time course. Please read our Fees & Funding information pages for more information regarding residency, previous study and bursary rates. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions.
Rest of UK students : For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), with a term-time address in Scotland, studying full time, the course fee is £5,800.
Some of our courses require students to have essential equipment/clothing.
If you are under 18, you are entitled to have essential equipment paid for whether you are entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) or not. However you must complete an application even if you know that you're not entitled to EMA.
If you are 18 and over and are eligible for a bursary, these costs will be met through your bursary. If you are not eligible for a bursary, you will need to fund these items yourself.
Students may also qualify for bursary funding.
What can I do on completion of my course?
This course is highly thought of by relevant organisations and potential employers, many of whom you will work with during your year with us. It sets you in a strong position to move on to rewarding work in a number of fields, and the Industry Awards gained are very important to employers.
Each year some of our students decide to continue to study in more detail, typically undertaking HNCs or HNDs in Horticulture, Forestry, or Conservation. Some courses can be hosted from West Highland College, or delivered in partnership with other Colleges.
Is there more information available online?
You can use the above QR code to connect directly to the course details.
I moved home to my father’s croft on Skye at the start of lockdown. I began to clear ground and plant potatoes and then a build a raised bed for veg. I heard about the Rural Skills course from some friends who had done it.
There is lots to learn and the lecturers have so much knowledge and experience. We cover so much - it’s a taster of many different skills.
A job came up with Broadford and Strath Community Company to be a seasonal grower, establishing and managing a new community poly tunnel, with produce going to the community fridge. I am sure that the skills I have learned on the course helped me to complete an updated CV and make a successful application.
I am loving the course and it’s such an interesting and varied group of people that I study with. I would really recommend it.
I moved to Mallaig from Lanarkshire in 2021. I like being outdoors, working with animals, on the land, with a team of good people.
I am loving it so far. It is great to be able to get out and do all the things I’ve been curious about. We are spoilt for choice for where we can go and what we do. Our lecturers are well informed and experienced and share their experience of working and developing their own land with us. It’s great to be able to capitalise on this. Small scale is the way to go.
The best thing is the variety of skills and knowledge we cover. We did some dry-stone dyking. That was great and I might look to take that further as I really enjoyed it. Long term, I’ll try for outdoor land-based work and then maybe one day look for my own croft.
I’d say give it a go. What is on offer is really good.
Apply for Countryside Skills NQ Level 4
We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI West Highland. Please note, UHI West Highland will be changing its name to UHI North, West and Hebrides in August 2023. This will not impact on your choice of course or how and where you will study. UHI West Highland operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.