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Partnership Assembly

News article - 8th October 2018

HISA Assembly_collage1

On Wednesday 26th September, the first ever UHI Partnership Assembly took place - with 100 delegates traveling to Inverness to discuss the status of UHI; focussing on how UHI is successful and what bits of UHI can be improved. There were UHI staff, students, Principals, Senior Management Staff and Governors taking part in the Partnership Assembly.

The ‘student’ group included many HISA elected Officers, as a group their top five ‘UHI successes’ were:

  • World class research and teaching specialisms
  • Flexible access to education: you can start with no qualifications and progress to PHD
  • Student representation: student voice is taken seriously and value is placed on student opinions
  • Uniqueness of UHI: there is the opportunity to innovate, and you can study anywhere
  • Student diversity: a great mix of learners all interacting with each other, mature, young, online, part time, evening, apprenticeships

The ‘students’ then went on to discuss the key challenges facing the UHI partnership, and were again asked to come up with the five most important to students:

  • Communication: there were no clear lines of communication between principals, SMT, and students
  • Identity and reputation of UHI: are we a college that does university degrees or a university that does college courses? UHI can be seen as a second-choice university option too often
  • Celebrating success: UHI isn’t always successful with celebrating wins, they are never communicated very well - or even at all
  • Losing sight of students: SMT sometimes do what they think is good for the institution without considering students enough - what is best for students is what is best for the institution. There can also be a lack of ambition from SMT.
  • Parity of student experience: access to facilities varies between each of partners, that is unacceptable and must change

The ‘students’ group concluded that all parts of UHI must work together more closely. There is duplication of work across UHI and often opportunities for collaboration are missed due to communication issues. We think that a more collaborative unified UHI will give a better student experience, savings can be made and that money can be reinvested.

UHI Assembly_collage 2

From the Partnership Assembly, Garry Coutts, Chair of UHI Court, is going to create a project group with the mission of exploring opportunities for UHI to work more closely together. Garry has proposed the programme board should have the following composition:

  • Six student representatives
  • Five staff representatives (below senior management level)
  • Two trade union representatives, one representing teaching staff and one professional services staff
  • Two independent members of the university court
  • Three representatives of academic partner boards of management, balancing incorporated, non-incorporated and specialist partners
  • Two senior executives from the university
  • Three senior executives from the academic partners, balancing incorporated, non-incorporated and specialist partners
  • One representative from the Scottish Funding Council

This group, called the Programme Board, is to make recommendations to Academic Partnership (AP) boards to consider and implement. Some of the AP’s have concerns that they will be forced to follow recommendations even if they may harm the AP, however HISA believe that this is a positive first step towards positive change at UHI.

UHI Assembly 5HISA President, Alan Simpson, was in attendance, and on the outcome of the day had this to say: “I’m so glad that students were represented so clearly today, and that we were able to make sure that no one forgot that students should be at the heart of every decision at UHI. There are too many decision makers within UHI, which can lead to confusion about identity and direction - so many governors in fact, they had to have two groups of them at the partnership! I believe that coming together to look to the future can benefit everyone, in every part of the partnership and I can’t wait to get started with the Programme Board!”