Annual Review 2020 content

Annual Review 2020

A welcome to the annual review 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact has undoubtedly dominated 2020, However, there are many outstanding achievements and accomplishments to celebrate across our university partnership, including our response to the pandemic.

This year’s review highlights just some of our achievements and developments in what has been an especially challenging year for everyone.

It has been another year to remember, with many students and staff receiving recognition and awards. Research institutes and centres continue to contribute significantly to world-class research, and knowledge exchange teams are pushing the boundaries between academic knowledge and useful innovation.  

Our focus is always to provide a safe learning, research and working environment for all our students and staff, while also protecting our local communities, and on the 17 March, we suspended the delivery of face‐to‐face teaching as the pandemic struck. Since then we have worked with teaching and support staff to facilitate some return to campus-based teaching where essential and as part of blended learning approaches, although thanks to our expertise in developing and delivering online curriculum some programmes remain delivered wholly off-campus.

I am extremely proud of staff and students who have all shown remarkable resilience, innovation and flexibility to adjust positively to the new ways in which we have to work and study at the present time, and also of the extent to which we have maintained continuity of opportunities for study across our wider region, and indeed this was our primary goal. We have even launched several new programmes, including degrees in optometry and in applied software development, during this period.

We have also been doing all that we can to manage the wider impact of the pandemic on peoples' lives, helping our local communities and setting up additional student hardship funds to assist our students affected by the pandemic. This included addressing digital poverty issues faced by some of our students needing to study online,   and our considerable experience in delivering blending learning enabled us to  start our higher and further education autumn terms as scheduled.  I would particularly like to commend our nursing and midwifery students who started their placements early to help NHS and care homes deal with the initial COVID-19 response.

Unfortunately, like all organisations, we did have to put planned initiatives and events on hold or reimagine their delivery.  This including our participation at New York Tartan Week, international exchanges and some work placements.  And, while our graduation ceremonies looked different this year, having had to move them online, we were still able to mark the exceptional achievements of those completing their studies with online celebrations featuring many heart-warming moments.  

Our partnership has a vital role to play in supporting the recovery of the region following the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our latest economic impact assessment shows a £560 million contribution to the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire economy each year.  We are continuing to work with employers, communities and learners to help respond to their changing needs and the nature of employment and career opportunities.

Finally I would like to thank all of our students, staff, alumni and partners for their support through the year and wish the incoming principal and vice-chancellor Professor Todd Walker all the very best for the future.  I am sure he will enjoy leading this amazing partnership as much as I have.

Professor Crichton Lang,
Principal and vice-chancellor (interim) of the University of the Highlands and Islands

Professor Crichton Lang, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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