UHI Merger Colleges Celebrate Gaelic Language Development

STAFF at UHI West Highland have been brushing up on their Gaelic language conversational skills with colleagues from Outer Hebrides and UHI North Highland

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Sophie MacRae is studying SVQ Gaelic for Work Purposes

Due to Bòrd na Gàidhlig support, UHI Outer Hebrides has been able to offer Gaelic language learning courses to staff across the three colleges working towards merger.

UHI Outer Hebrides deliver a range of Gaelic face to face and online short courses to learners of all abilities.

Angela Weir, a Gaelic lecturer at UHI Outer Hebrides, said:

“It’s wonderful to see staff take steps to engage with Gaelic. Many are learning Gaelic for the first time, while others have been keen to improve their existing skills. Enhancing the status of Gaelic is a priority for UHI Outer Hebrides, and will be for UHI North, West and Hebrides. We are committed to driving forward the revitalisation of the language and encouraging people to develop their Gaelic skills, whether they are a complete beginner, a latent learner or an advanced speaker is a big part of that.”

The college’s commitment to Gaelic language development can be seen with the recent appointment of a new role. Jane Macleod has recently taken up the position of Gaelic Short Course Co-ordinator. She added, “My new role is a fantastic opportunity to develop and enhance the already substantial short course offer from UHI Outer Hebrides. I will be working with a range of stakeholders as well as local and national audiences to ensure we are delivering a wide range of opportunities for people across Scotland to engage with our Gaelic offer.”

UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland will merge in August 2023 to form UHI North, West and Hebrides, pending Scottish Government approval.

Kirsteen MacDonald, originally from Ratagan near Kyle of Lochalsh, is a cleaner at UHI North Highland. She recently started the Gaelic for Work Purposes SCQF level 3 online course.

Kirsteen (50), who works at the Dornoch campus, said:

“My Dad spoke Gaelic and I learnt a bit in high school. I was really keen to learn more Gaelic so I could have simple conversations with Gaelic speakers at work and in my wider family. I am really enjoying it. It’s given me a refresher and I am learning some new phrases. I really want to become more confident speaking the language so I can carry on the Gaelic tradition in my family.”

Sophie MacRae, who works in marketing at UHI West Highland, is also doing the Gaelic for Work Purposes SCQF level 3 online course.

Sophie (36), who works at the Auchtertyre campus, said:

“I have used Duo Lingo intermittently, but I was keen to learn more as my daughter is now in primary one at a Gaelic medium school. I thought this course would be good for me personally but also for my job. Our lecturer, Angela, is engaging and encouraging. We have already been introduced to some new vocabulary and basic conversational Gaelic. As there are a few of our team taking the class we have been able to practise our speaking through the week which has been fun and has increased our confidence. It has also been useful to me personally as I can now recognise some new phrases and words from my daughter’s schoolwork.”

Donna Fairbairn is a Senior Admin Officer and Personal Assistant to the Principal at UHI Outer Hebrides. She is studying the Gaelic for Work Purposes SCQF level 4 course online, having completed the SCQF level 3 course. 

Donna (40), who spoke Gaelic as a young child but stopped using the language when she started primary school, said:

“Initially, I wanted to support my younger brother who is studying the BA in Gaelic Language and Culture through UHI Outer Hebrides. I understand Gaelic but I really wanted to be able to hold a conversation. The level 3 course was a good starting point as I could familiarise myself with basic, but very useful, phrasing. I’m developing my skills through the level 4 and hope to be able to have a full Gaelic conversation with my parents instead of responding in English. I’m secretary to my local historical society and it would really benefit me, both when interviewing people who feel more comfortable speaking Gaelic, and in preserving the parts of a story that can be lost in translation. My daughters like to compete in Mod singing competitions and I would like to be of more help to them.”


Picture: Kirsteen MacDonald; Sophie MacRae

For more information, please contact

Kathryn Lamont Smith, Marketing Manager, UHI Outer Hebrides:

  1. lamontsmith@uhi.ac.uk | 07817530062
  2. Find out more about the college by visiting www.whc.uhi.ac.uk
  3. UHI West Highland is the trading name of West Highland College UHI
  4. UHI West Highland is an academic partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands –a diverse tertiary partnership serving our communities and connected to their needs. We offer flexible and supported learning from access level to PhD, as well as research opportunities rooted in place and purpose. The diversity and flexibility of our partnership is our greatest strength, allowing us to deliver more.
  5. Our 10 college centres are located throughout Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, offering a wide range of qualifications from access to degree and postgraduate levels across all of our sites
  6. Our highly successful School of Adventure Studies has its home primarily in Fort William – the Outdoor Capital of the UK – with a further base in Broadford, Isle of Skye.
  7. The College is led by Interim Principal and Chief Executive Sue Macfarlane
  8. UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland will merge in August 2023 to from UHI North, West and Hebrides, pending Scottish Government approval. By coming together, we will create a more sustainable organisation with combined capacity and resource to grow the curriculum, research, and innovation; develop existing and new partnerships to support employers address skills gaps and retain, attract, and nurture talent; and become more responsive to the social, cultural, and economic opportunities in our regions. Lydia Rohmer has been appointed Principal Designate of UHI North, West and Hebrides.

Cheryl MacRae : Marketing and Communications Manager, UHI West Highland Cheryl.macrae.whc@uhi.ac.uk | 07774799556 

Notes to editors:

Tha LUCHD-OBRACH bho UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar air a bhith a’ leasachaidh an sgilean conaltraidh sa Ghàidhlig còmhla ri co-obraichean bho UHI Innse Gall agus UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath.

Mar thoradh air taic bho Bhòrd na Gàidhlig, tha e comasach do UHI Innse Gall a bhith a’ tabhann chùrsaichean Gàidhlig do luchd-obrach thar nan trì colaistean a tha ag obair a dh’ionnsaigh co-aonadh.

Tha UHI Innse Gall a’ lìbhrigeadh raon de chùrsaichean Gàidhlig goirid aghaidh ri aghaidh agus air-loidhne do luchd-ionnsachaidh aig a h-uile ìre.    

Thuirt Angela Weir, òraidiche Gàidhlig aig UHI Innse Gall,: “Tha e mìorbhaileach a bhith a’ faicinn luchd-obrach a bith a’ gabhail cheumannan a bhith a’ dol an sàs leis a’ Ghàidhlig.  Tha mòran ag ionnsachadh na Gàidhlig airson a’ chiad uair, agus tha feadhainn eile dèidheil air a bhith a’ leasachadh nan sgilean a tha aca a-cheana.  Tha a bhith ag àrdachadh inbhe na Gàidhlig na phrìomhachas do UHI Innse Gall, agus bidh e mar nì ceudna do UHI Tuath, Iar agus Innse Gall. Tha sinn dealasach mu bhith a’ stiùireadh air adhart ath-bheothachadh a’ chànain agus a bhith a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu bhith a’ leasachadh an sgilean sa Ghàidhlig, eadar an e fìor neach-tòiseachaidh, neach le tuigse no neach aig a bheil sgilean labhairt adhartach a tha annta.”

Tha dealas na colaiste a thaobh leasachadh na Gàidhlig ri fhaicinn leis gun deach dreuchd ùr a shuidheachadh o chionn ghoirid.  Tha Sìne NicLeòid air tòiseachadh o chionn ghoirid na dreuchd mar Cho-òrdanaiche Chùrsaichean Goirid Gàidhlig.  Thuirt i, “Is e fìor chothrom a tha san dreuchd ùr agam a bhith a’ leasachadh agus ag àrdachadh an tairgse glè mhòr a tha a-cheana aig UHI Innse Gall. Bidh mi ag obair le raon de luchd-ùidh cho math ri daoine gu h-ionadail is gu nàiseanta gus dèanamh cinnteach gu bheil sinn a’ lìbhrigeadh raon fharsaing de chothroman do dhaoine air feadh Alba gus a dhol an sàs san tairgse Ghàidhlig againn.”

Bidh UHI Innse Gall, UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath agus UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar a’ co-aonadh san Lùnastal 2023 gus a bhith a’ suidheachadh UHI Tuath, Iar agus Innse Gall, ma gheibhear aonta bho Riaghaltas na h-Alba.

Tha Kirsteen NicDhòmhnaill, a bhuineas do Ràtagan, faisg air Caol Loch Aillse, na neach-glanaidh aig UHI Gàidhealtachd a Tuath

Thuirt Kirsteen (50), a tha ag obair aig campas Dhòrnoch: “Bha m’ athair a’ bruidhinn na Gàidhlig agus dh’ionnsaich mise beagan san àrd-sgoil.  Bha mi airson barrachd Gàidhlig ionnsachadh gus am biodh e comasach dhomh beagan a ràdh sa Ghàidhlig le daoine aig an robh i aig m’ obair agus san teaghlach agam san fharsaingeachd. Tha e a’ còrdadh rium gu mòr.  Tha e air cùisean ùrachadh dhomh agus tha mi ag ionnsachadh abairtean ùra.  Tha mi uabhasach dèidheil air a bhith a’ fàs nas misneachail ga bruidhinn gus an urrainn dhomh a’ Ghàidhlig a chumail a’ dol san teaghlach againn.”

Tha Sophie NicRath, a tha an sàs ann am margaidheachd aig UHI Gàidhealtachd an Iar, cuideachd a’ dèanamh a’ chùrsa air-loidhne SCQF ìre 3 Gàidhlig airson Adhbharan-obrach.

Thuirt Sophie (36), a tha ag obair aig campas Uachdar Thìre: “Bho àm gu àm tha mi air a bhith a’ cleachdadh Duo Lingo, ach bha mi airson barrachd ionnsachadh oir tha an nighean agam ann am prìomh a h-aon aig sgoil tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig.  Bha mi a’ smaoineachadh gum biodh an cùrsa seo feumail dhomh gu pearsanta agus cuideachd a thaobh m’ obair.  Tha an òraidiche againn, Angela, air leth brosnachail agus misneachail.  Tha sinn mar thà air briathrachas ùr a thogail agus conaltradh bunaiteach Gàidhlig.  Leis gu bheil feadhainn san sgioba againn a’ dèanamh a’ chùrsa seo tha e air a bhith comasach dhuinn a bhith a’ bruidhinn ri chèile tron t-seachdain agus tha seo air a bhith spòrsail agus air ar misneachd a mheudachadh. Gu pearsanta tha e air a bhith feumail dhomh oir is urrainn dhomh a-nis a bhith ag aithneachadh abairtean agus facail ùra ann an obair sgoile mo nighean.”

Tha Donna Fairbairn na h-Àrd Oifigear Rianachd agus na Neach-taic Phearsanta don Phrionnsabal aig UHI Innse Gall. Tha i a’ dèanamh a’ chùrsa air-loidhne SCQF ìre 4 Gàidhlig airson Adhbharan-obrach an dèidh dhi a’ chùrsa SCQF ìre 3 a choileanadh.

Bha Donna (40), a’ bruidhinn na Gàidhlig an uair a bha i òg ach sguir i a bhruidhinn a’ chànain an uair a chaidh i dhan bhun-sgoil, agus thuirt i:“Sa chiad dol a-mach, bha mi airson taic a thoirt dham bhràthair a tha nas òige na mi a tha a’ dèanamh a’ cheum BA ann an Cànan is Cultar na Gàidhlig tro UHI Innse Gall. Tha mi a’ tuigsinn na Gàidhlig ach tha mi airson a bhith comasach a bruidhinn.  B’ e fìor dheagh cheum toisich a bha sa chùrsa 3 oir bha e comasach dhomh a bhith fàs eòlach air abairtean bunaiteach, ach feumail.  Tha mi a’ leasachadh nan sgilean agam tro ìre 4 agus tha mi an dòchas gum bi e comasach dhomh còmhradh sa Ghàidhlig le mo phàrantan seach a bhith gam freagairt sa Bheurla.  Tha mi nam rùnaire air a’ chomann eachdraidh ionadail agam agus bhiodh e na fheum mhòr dhomh, an dà chuid an uair a bhios mi a’ dèanamh agallamh le daoine a tha nas cofhurtail a’ bruidhinn na Gàidhlig, agus ann a bhith a’ gleidheadh pàirtean de sgeulachd a dh’fhaodadh a bhith air an call ann an eadar-theangachadh.  Bu chaomh leis a’ chlann-nighean agam a bhith a’ farpais ann am farpaisean seinn aig a’ Mhòd agus bu chaomh leam barrachd cuideachadh a thoirt dhaibh.”