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9th May 2007

THE drive to create a university for the Highlands and Islands has received a major boost from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The enterprise network this week announced a funding package of nearly 5m over the next three years designed to facilitate specific outputs which UHI Millennium Institute needs to attain to satisfy the Quality Assurance Agency that university title is appropriate.

These include strengthened management and faculties; development of technology enabled learning; improved teaching delivery methods; web-based systems and business processes, enhanced marketing and student support services and a new human resource strategy to support the changes.

HIE chair William Roe said: "Much has been achieved over recent years in developing the UHI and in drawing together the complex strands required to deliver a quality institution that will become a cornerstone of a dynamic Highlands and Islands in years to come.

"Together we have identified these vital components which must be addressed and I am delighted HIE's board has approved 4.985m over three years towards the cost." Professor Bob Cormack, UHI principal, said: "The continued support of Highland and Islands Enterprise to UHI is very important to us, demonstrating the importance of UHI to the economy and skills-base of the region.

"This welcome funding package will enable us to develop our curriculum, improve our networking and strengthen our management. We intend to recruit two vice-principals, one for research and commercialisation and the other to head up learning and teaching.

"We can also develop our subject networks and make key academic appointments based in the UHI partner colleges to assist in the development of new courses.

"We recognise that we need to network more of our courses to achieve the efficiencies of a financially-sustainable institution, and we must strengthen and increase the choice of courses throughout the partnership."

Alex Paterson, HIE's director of developing skills explained: "HIE has unstintingly emphasised the importance of a university to the future prosperity of the region. It will contribute to development right across the spectrum of our ambitions from the provision of lifelong learning to its ability to retain and attract young people to study higher education within the Highlands and Islands.

"It will develop a science base that fosters knowledge based activities, strengthen the region's communities through its contribution to social and cultural development and assist inward investment as a result of higher education links."


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