West Highland College UHI holds first Virtual Open Day in response to COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

West Highland College has announced plans to hold more events online during the current public health crisis following the success of its first recent virtual open day.

The College had invited potential students to its Fort William and Portree college centres for conventional Open Day events on 20 and 21 March, including taster sessions across a range of courses.

Faced with the prospect of cancelling the events amid increasing concerns about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the College decided to showcase its long-standing reputation for online learning instead by creating a virtual open day on 20 March to keep students and staff safe at home.

Applicants from across Scotland and the UK were offered the chance to switch to Skype to find out more from the college’s course tutors about a wide range of subjects including Fashion, Digital Media, Childcare, Computing and Professional Cookery.

Some applicants had online interviews for admission to our national School of Adventure Studies, with its unique specialist BA (Hons) degrees in Adventure Tourism Management, Adventure Education, Marine and Coastal Tourism and Adventure Performance and Coaching.

Following the success of this new virtual format for engaging with future learners, the College is now exploring ways to host other events – including Facebook Live sessions – which connect lecturers with prospective learners from the safety of their own homes.

Lydia Rohmer, Principal and Chief Executive, commented: “West Highland College UHI is a market leader in virtual learning, and whilst the current COVID-19 pandemic means our buildings are temporarily closed, we remain open for business but fully online. We continue to teach our current students fully remotely, a mode of learning we have deployed for many years to ensure our learners and businesses in some of the most remote communities in Scotland have access to a broad range of high quality further and higher education qualifications and skills.”

She added: “Our admissions for academic year 2020-21 is in full swing, and we are now working on offering a number of innovative virtual open days to ensure future learners have full access to staff to guide and inform their applications for courses starting this autumn. Skills and qualifications are now more important than ever before to help our local economies recover after this crisis, and West Highland College UHI is ready and here to help anyone take the next step on their future learner journey.”

Lesley Hawkins, Head of Student Support, said that the College will be offering more virtual events in May and June. “We were very pleased to be able to go ahead with this alternative Open Day session during what continues to be a very stressful and uncertain time for students looking to start college this year. We’re currently working with staff to explore ways of making these events more creative and versatile. If you’re thinking of studying with us this year and these sessions would be of interest to you then please contact us. Our college centres may be closed but our online door is always open.”