Welcome from our new Principal and Vice-Chancellor


Our third chapter begins…

Todd WalkerThis month the University of the Highlands and Islands marks its tenth birthday. It represents a tremendous achievement in the development of Scotland’s tertiary sector, and more so for access and participation for young people across our region who have joined us for their studies and education.
Today, we are a partnership of independent colleges and research institutions covering the largest geographical area of any campus-based university or college in the UK. We have the largest student body in Scotland, with almost 40,000 studying with us each year, and we contribute £560 million annually to the region, indirectly supporting 6,200 jobs. As a multiplier effect, the university puts back £4 for every £1 spent into the economies of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.
Our first chapter started with a university project office being established by Highland and Islands Enterprise, key staff being appointed and £33.4 million being awarded by the Millennium Commission. The creation of the UHI Millennium Institute marked a key moment in our evolution, as did the award of university title by the Privy Council, Professor James Fraser becoming our first Principal and HRH Princess Royal becoming our first Chancellor.
Our second chapter has been characterised by growth and development. Some of our partnership’s key developments over the last decade include becoming the regional strategic body for further education in the Highlands and Islands, having over 69% of our research classified as ‘world leading’, opening a micro campus at the Hunan Institute of Engineering in China and gaining powers to award our own research degrees.
Today, as our third chapter begins, the university partnership is at a critical point in its history; its current strategic plan is being refreshed; it has to operate in an intensely competitive and dynamic higher education and research environment, and we face an uncertain future with COVID-19.
My approach as Principal will be to embrace these challenges as genuine opportunities. In my view, our university’s aspirations should extend beyond the place-based education it has in its regions and communities and should embrace a ‘daring to be different’ ethos. This ethos needs to harness our energy and set new ambitions in our areas of strength, namely: tertiary education, research excellence, enterprise and engagement.
These areas are not new, but the way in which we will need to engage with them and link them to our new strategy will be new. It requires a shift in thinking - one for which our partnership is well equipped - around the ambition of becoming more engaged with our communities and more enterprising in our activity.
I thank you as a valued member of our alumni community for contributing to our collective success and helping us reach this milestone. I look forward to engaging with you in the coming months as we shape the third chapter of this remarkable institution.

Professor Todd Walker
Principal and Vice-Chancellor