Jisc member stories: flexible online learning at University of Highlands and Islands
I’ve been here so long, it’s just my home.
Been here long enough that I can understand the locals now. I can’t speak like them! The college is 26 years old, and it came about in response to directly helping fishing and
agriculture. Traditionally Shetland was always a fishing industry. Then about mid-80s, salmon farming started. The local industry employs a couple of hundred folk directly. There’s a lot of services so maybe there’s a couple of thousand people employed. The economics of it is huge. Round about half a billion to the local economy so there’s a lot of money swimming around. We have students all over Shetland and the islands, Yell and Unst, which is a fair trek to get to, we have a lot of students in Orkney and we have students in the north of Scotland on the mainland as well. Remote areas that have trouble getting to
the college or on shift patterns have asked for more flexible learning, and it’s then
developing our course material to fit around that. It’s gradually built up over the years,
there’s a marine hatchery doing research here and Nautical Cadets and marine engineering. We’re filling an educational role, we’re filling a research role, but we’re also filling the
legislative role for training. What the college does is provides accredited courses for staff that are doing salmon and mussel farming. It’s a statutory requirement from the tickets they have to have for the equipment they use, the boats, the machinery. But it’s also to do with the accreditation for their welfare standards. The future is to start putting more of the courses online that we’re doing face-to-face and using the same delivery platform and fine-tuning it over time. I’m passionate about the job. These guys work hard. Seeing the completed product, you know, the guys getting their certificate at the end of the
day – it’s just brilliant. The world’s their oyster at the moment.