College Staff and Student Recognised in Regional Student Association Awards

The Highland and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) has recently published its awards for staff and students across the partnership of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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The winner of the “Above and Beyond” category across the whole university partnership was Lara Hinde, a lecturer in the School of Adventure Studies.

The HISA Awards allow students to nominate staff and students in various different categories, with entries judged by a panel consisting of staff, students, and student officers from across the university partnership.

West Highland College UHI had 24 category nominations for a total of 13 staff and one student award. Of these, one member of staff was overall winner of her individual category and four staff and one student representative were Highly Commended in their categories.

The winner of the “Above and Beyond” category across the whole university partnership was Lara Hinde – Lecturer in the School of Adventure Studies. Lara is based near Broadford on the Isle of Skye and delivers the Outdoor Adventure NQ course. Lara was also nominated in the ‘Most Inspiring Lecturer’ category.

One student commented: “Lara has gone out of her way on numerous occasions to help us feel settled on Skye. She’s a super inspiring person and has supported all of us through the course and throughout COVID.” Another added: “Lara has gone out of her way to give us opportunities and is such a delight to be taught by. She treats us all with respect and is one of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of meeting.”

Speaking about her award, Lara said:

“I’m absolutely delighted and very grateful to receive the award. The award is also a testament to the hard work of many other staff at West Highland College UHI who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that the course could be delivered in full in spite of the disruption caused by the pandemic, and also to the students themselves who demonstrated fantastic teamwork and supported each other to complete the course.”

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

“The HISA awards come at a time when many of our staff and students have experienced the most difficult of years. I am therefore extremely delighted that our students recognised the excellent support provided by our colleagues and engaged in large numbers to support nominations in many of the available categories.

“The comments supporting the nominations have been extremely moving, with many students commenting on the incredible support they received over the whole year which inspired and motivated them, helped them build confidence to remain engaged in their learning, complete their course and start new things, which provided a ‘ray of sunshine and laughter’ for many and an ‘important lifeline’ for some during very dark times by their chosen nominee. All nominations commented on the help available not just during timetabled sessions, but over and above course hours. Many commented on how their chosen nominee had created a community in which students could help and support each other, not just as fellow students, but as fellow human beings.

“Together with the result from our recent student survey which said that over 93% of our students were satisfied/very satisfied with their time at college, I think these comments encapsulate the ethos of the whole of our West Highland College UHI family and the personalised care and support we offer to our students.”

Awards Context/Background Information

An integral aspect of the university calendar, the HISA Awards give recognition to staff and students who dedicate their time to making the institution more diverse and inclusive for all. This year, over 600 nominations were received with submissions praising staff and students of the University of the Highlands and Islands for their support.

HISA President, Florence Jansen, said:

“The HISA Awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate the staff and students who have gone above and beyond across the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership. This year we have encountered new challenges and it has been truly incredible to see HISA record over 600 nominations for the Awards. Myself and the HISA team could not be prouder of what our staff and students have accomplished this year and we hope that the Awards show our appreciation of the amazing work going on behind the scenes every day. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our winners, but also every staff member and student that has been nominated or highly commended.”

Dean of Students, Dr Iain Morrison, commented:

“It is hard to think of a more challenging context for the HISA Awards than what we have all been through this year. Despite the changes necessitated by the pandemic, the staff and students at this university have been magnificent in the way they have remained focused on supporting each other, adapting to changes in delivery and continuing to provide a top quality education. The student comments are genuinely moving in what they say about the contributions of nominees to their wellbeing and success, and provide powerful testimony to what makes this university special: our remarkable staff and students.”

Further detail:

  • Lara Hinde, Lecturer Outdoor Adventure NQWinner of the category ‘Above and Beyond’
  • Lewis Sturrock, Lecturer Computing ScienceHighly Commended in the category ‘Most Engaging Online Lecturer’ and nominated in the ‘Most Inspiring Lecturer’ category. One of Lewis’ students commented: “I personally have had a really great experience with great feedback and explanations, as well as with any other type of help required.” Another added: “He is an inspiring lecturer because he always helps when you're stuck and always gives useful advice.”
  • Andy Gibb, Course Leader Health and Social CareHighly Commended in the category ‘Most Inspiring Lecturer’. One of Andy’s students commented: During COVID, he has motivated us all to work hard during difficult times. His lectures have been amazing online and it felt like a normal year. I felt involved in the lessons and Andy was amazing; always ensuring that everyone felt included.” Another added “Andy is always really supportive and always available if you need a chat with him. He always puts more than 100% into every one of his students and supports you to do your best, even when you don’t expect it. He pushes you so you can achieve more.”
  • Morag McKie, Course Leader Early Education and Childcare - Highly Commended in the category ‘Most Inspiring Lecturer’ and also nominated in the ‘Above and Beyond’, ‘Most Inspiring Lecturer’ and Best Personal / Academic Learning Support’ categories. One of Morag’s students commented: “Morag has been outstanding in her support of our group. I felt that being part of Morag's class I gained so much experience, made friends and managed to complete my studies in a challenging time. This was all due to her support, professionalism, dedication and amazingly positive outlook. Nothing was ever too much for her throughout the course!”  Another added: “So positive; a ray of sunshine and she knows her stuff. She’s so supportive and always available. She made a dark time (Covid 19) ok.”
  • Charles MacCrimmon, Lecturer Computing Science - Highly Commended in the category ‘Most Inspiring Lecturer’ and nominated in the Most Engaging Online Lecturer category. One of Charles’ students commented “The time he took outside lessons to help me truly understand concepts and theories is miles ahead of anyone else I've had experience of being taught by.  Another added: “He always tries to promote interaction and discussion within his modules which makes for a great learning environment and also helps students to get to know each other (especially important during the remote learning we have had this year).”

We were also delighted that one of our students was highlighted in the Awards:

  • Alaina Wood – Highly Commended in the category ‘Best Class Representative.’ A fellow student commented “Alaina has juggled a full-time job, children and her own learning and yet still has time to support the rest of the class. She has phoned other students on her own time to explain things to them and to make sure they are succeeding in their studies too, even when she has been trying to meet her own deadlines.”

The full list of winners and highly recommended individuals across all categories