College students can flourish in uncertain times

West Highland College UHI has confirmed that all of their courses will be going ahead on their planned start dates with students commencing their studies as scheduled in Autumn 2020. For Further Education Students’, term will start on August 31 and Higher Education Students will begin their studies on September 7.

Ready to go

West Highland College UHI has 10 years’ experience of delivering courses using a combination of online teaching technologies and video conferencing that connects students and allows them to study from all over the Highlands.  Surveys confirm that the college’s students enjoy being able to study where they live and that staff are super friendly in person and online. Students say that this has been a successful way for them to study and gain their qualifications.

Adam Robertson, Head of Curriculum at the college explained further:

We were already planning to increase this type of delivery. However as a result of the current COVID -19 health crisis our staff have utilised all their expertise and experience to quickly finalise the planned changes and allow all of our courses to go ahead for 2020.  This will give potential students the confidence that they can apply for the course they want this autumn and go on to succeed on their chosen career path.

For our more practical courses, we are working with industry bodies and employers to rapidly assess what will be required in terms of social distancing measures, industry standards and safety measures.  We have therefore been able to put in place innovative and flexible ways of teaching to allow subjects such as Professional Cookery, Construction, Rural Skills and Maritime and Aquaculture Skills and Adventure to start as expected in September 2020. 

Innovative Course Design

The college has been at the forefront of designing courses that can be studied by students from anywhere around the Highlands.  Business, Social Care, Creative and Digital Design and Psychology are just some of the subjects that students have studied with West Highland College UHI online already.  Learning takes place in real-time, within an online classroom, collaborating with class-mates and their lecturer using a combination of video conferencing, interactive chat and sharing of visuals. For 2020, students will have the choice of accessing and studying many more courses in this way.

Natassja Oulton from Ullapool studied for an NC Early Education and Childcare and then HNC Childhood Practice and had this to say about learning using online technologies:

“It is a very easy system to use and you get lots more time for thinking about your studies.  Everyone is very supportive with you when you’re trying your best to use the system. Any problems, you speak to the centre manager or IT support and they will happily help where they can.  Studying from my hometown of Ullapool has been a breeze as it means I’ve been able to fit in study with my shifts at work.”

Fiona Grant, Director of Academic Affairs, welcomes all students

Our approach to learning and teaching focusses on the student experience, the quality of their learning and on them as individuals. Our flexible courses help students to combine study with family and work.  Now we can also help students and their families stay safe, by giving an even greater choice of subjects that can be studied from anywhere with an internet connection.

All of our new and continuing students are supported by experienced staff through induction to start their learning, whether in an online-classroom, a workshop or a studio.

Online Drop In sessions

The college has recently held a series of online drop in sessions and Facebook live events, where prospective students could watch video clips of lecturers and of students who are currently studying or speak to a lecturer using social media.  Follow up appointments allowed students and college staff to hold one-to-one video sessions to answer specific questions about courses, funding or about their application.  The college plans to continue these sessions throughout the summer and would encourage anyone to get in touch at any time through their website or social media where there is always someone available to answer any queries.