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HISA and UHI: Student Partnership Agreement

SPA signing 2018_Alan and Clive

The University of the Highlands and Islands was the first university in Scotland to launch a new Student Partnership Agreement (SPA) in 2016-17.

The SPA was developed in light of recommendations in the Scottish Government's Post-16 Education Green Paper and sets out how students and staff can work together to improve the student experience.

This year's Student Partnership Agreement was signed by HISA Regional President Alan Simpson (left) and UHI Principal and Vice Chancellor, Clive Mulholland (right).

Your HISA Local Student Officers (Deputes) are also working on Local Partnership Agreements (LPAs) at each academic partner. You can see those LPAs which have been signed below:

2018-19 Student Partnership Agreement

The 2018-19 Student Partnership Agreement sets out how HISA and UHI will work together to benefit all students across the whole partnership.

Each year your HISA Regional Officers and members of UHI's Student Engagement Team work together on three focus themes (workstreams). This year's SPA themes are:

Check out how we are doing with the three themes now, in our Progress Report.



STUDENT LEAD: Callum Stephen, HISA Vice President (Further Education)  HISA_Callum

The aim of this work stream is to ‘work together to improve mental health for all students’.


  • Develop and write a student mental health agreement
  • Address stigma attached to mental health
  • Improve the mental wellbeing of our student body


The following work is currently underway regarding our Mental Health workstream:

  • Mental Health Service Review: in early 2018 the university will conduct a service review looking at mental health support within UHI.
  • Mental Health Agreement: our new agreement was launched on University Mental Health Day on Thursday 1st March 2018.  Student representatives were consulted on the document at HISA’s regional council on 5th and 6th February.  The SMHA is an initiative led by Think Positive on behalf of NUS Scotland. View the Student Mental Health Agreement here.
  • Healthy, Happy You (Feb 19th til March 2nd 2018): the annual health awareness week has been extended to a fortnight in 2018.  Preparations are under way and a full schedule of events will be available shortly. This year we will include mental health awareness among the focus themes. 
  • Mental Health First Aid: HISA Vice President (Further Education) Callum Stephen is currently conducting a review to determine the number and proportion of UHI staff who are 'Mental Health First Aid' trained at each academic partner.  Thereafter, a report with recommendations will be written.  


STUDENT LEAD: Holly Scrimgeour, HISA President 

The aim of this work stream is to work to improve learning resources


  • To establish in what areas learning resources should be improved
  • Involve students and staff in an audit of current learning resources.
  • Consider gender action planning in relation to learning resources.


The following work is currently underway regarding our Learning Resources workstream:

  • Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) review: The university's current VLE is Blackboard. A review of the VLE is currently taking place, with a view to replacing the existing system. Four possible alternatives are being reviewed by staff and student representatives. 
  • Learning Resources Benchmarking: A learning resources benchmark has been supplied by NUS. The HISA President contributed to this work and has enthusiastically encouraged the group to use the new benchmarking system in our work to assess UHI's resources.
  • Facilities audit: we have agreed to set up two discussion groups to conduct an audit of learning resources. There will be one group for students, and another for staff. Both groups are due to report back in the new year. 
  • Libraries audit: HISA has also joined the library practitioners' group, to engage with library services across the partnership and in particular to consider ways that resources may be improved. 


STUDENT LEAD: Sorcha Kirker, HISA Vice President (Higher Education) 

The aim of this workstream is to improve the sustainability and environmental impact that the university and HISA have.

We will work to develop a number of initiatives to encourage students and staff to lead a greener lifestyle.


  • To run a series of measurable initiatives across the partnership to engage students and staff with the concepts of green living, and sustainability
  • For HISA to promote involvement, and actively engage with the NUS Sustainability campaigns, in partnership with the university
  • To run awareness campaigns with the HISA Local Student Officers, tailored to the needs of each local academic partner
  • To facilitate best practice sharing between the HISA Local Student Officers


The following work is currently underway regarding our Sustainability workstream:

  • Environment and Sustainability Group: the SPA working group proposed that a new partnership-wide staff/student group be established to take forward the work initiated by the workstream.  The group had its first meeting on 24th May.  If you are interested in joining the group you can register by emailing
  • Green Impact Student Union Awards (NUS initiative): evidence for this award has now been submitted and HISA are awaiting an audit to review what level of award we will achieve.  Awards will be presented at an NUS prize-giving ceremony in early July.
  • Green Week Event: planning is underway for an annual event at UHI, which would include a number of initiatives across the partnership. Put the date in your diary – 24th to 28th September 2018.
  • Clubs and Societies: engaging with current clubs and societies with a sustainability remit to look at ways for integrated action and events.