Minister visits Portree students at the start of a new academic year at UHI West Highland

Scotland’s Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training has congratulated UHI West Highland on its contribution to rural education provision Skye and Lochalsh. Jamie Hepburn MSP visited the college’s campus in Portree last week (Thursday September 1st) where he toured the facilities and spoke with staff and students.

Mr Hepburn learned about the wide range of subjects delivered in Portree including Construction, Beauty, Computing, Professional Cookery, Art, Photography and Supported Learning. He also had an opportunity to join with Foundation Apprenticeship pupils studying Creative and Digital media as part of the college’s award-winning Virtual School programme.  This provides the opportunity for pupils across 29 high schools in Highland region to access subjects as part of their Senior Phase studies that would otherwise be unavailable due to small class sizes.

Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training Jamie Hepburn said:

“It’s been a pleasure to meet students at the start of their academic year and to wish them well for the future. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to visit UHI West Highland’s centre in Portree for the first time. The college plays a vital role in ensuring learners across some very rural areas have access to quality tertiary education and it was great to see the innovative learning strategies and methods that are being used to achieve that.

“It was particularly interesting to hear more about the way the College is working with local schools, employers and stakeholder groups to address some of the unique challenges that young people face in their communities. Access to affordable housing, public transport and better local infrastructure are all key factors in ensuring that we can stop the flow of outward migration and help fill local employment gaps. Having local business leaders engaged and willing to help shape education and training is absolutely key to creating opportunities for our young people to gain the relevant skills to secure employment.”

Lydia Rohmer, Principal and Chief Executive of UHI West Highland said:

“We were delighted to welcome Mr Hepburn to our campus in Portee today. Our ten college centres throughout the west highlands demonstrate how a small college in a rural and island environment can offer a truly tertiary experience for our learners.  We are committed to having a positive impact on our communities by providing accessible pathways into learning with seamless progression from further to higher education and into vocational and work based learning.

“We are always proud to showcase the hard work of our staff and the achievements of our students who are taking full advantage of an opportunity to study close to home and thereby contribute to the economic prosperity of their home communities through the opportunities offered locally and the UHI Partnership.

“I was also able to update the Minister on the proposed merger of our college with UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI North Highland and of our plans for a future organisation which will have an even more transformational impact on the education and career prospects of the learners across the vast region it will serve.”

To find out more about UHI West Highland visit

To find out more about the proposed merger of UHI West Highland with UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI North Highland visit Home - Rural and Islands College Merger Project (

Twitter: @UHIWestHighland