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Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) refuses to support any University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) curriculum review that 'is aiming to limit the opportunity of choice for our students'

By Andrew Dixon

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Highlands and Islands Students’ Association members.
Highlands and Islands Students’ Association members.

Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) pledges all students – no matter what subject they are studying – are welcome here.

It comes after Professor Todd Walker, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), issued an apology via social media after warning the days of “vanity courses” would be a thing of the past at UHI.

His comments in an interview with the Inverness Courier prompted backlash online.

He stated in the interview: “I’d go on the record as saying the days of having a vanity course, unit or subject are over. We’re not here to study something for which there is no direct employment, growing market or sector.”

The online reaction triggered him to say: “I understand the concerns of some students and staff following the article.

“The tone of the article is at odds with my thoughts and hopes. I am sorry for any confusion or distress this has caused, that was never my intention. There is no hidden agenda, or message in this article from me that some courses or subject areas are more important than others.”

In response to the comments made by Prof Walker in the original interview, HISA officers contacted senior figures at UHI, including the principal.

HISA officers put forward student feedback – seen on social media and in correspondence directly with HISA officers and representatives – and pressed for more information and commitment on student involvement in a curriculum review.

A spokesman for HISA said: “Although we agree with the need for a thorough curriculum review that ensures our offer to students is sustainable, we cannot and will not support a review that is aiming to limit the opportunity of choice for our students at the university.

"We have been involved in pushing for a curriculum review for several years and are confident that the process will be delivered professionally and transparently, taking in the full range of courses provided by UHI.

"We believe that students should be able to study the subjects they want and as main stakeholders in this review should be consulted extensively. The curriculum review should not be done in isolation but developed in partnership and co-operation with students.

"The university gave assurances that this would be the case and that HISA will continue to be highly involved with the curriculum review.

“While employability and responding to the changes in the labour market is important to keep the curriculum relevant, we refute the use of the term ‘vanity’ for any part of our provision.

"Education is an important right that we believe everyone should have the access to and that can help develop a varied and thriving economy across our region. We want to reassure that students, no matter their subject area, will be welcomed and supported by UHI and HISA.”

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