A lecturer on Skye has been recognised with an award from the Highlands and Islands Student Association.
The University of the Highlands and Islands was one of the first UK institutions to introduce student-led teaching awards. The initiative, now in its eighth year, recognises excellence in 14 categories, with winners coming from around the university partnership.
Amongst those recognised was NC Crofting and Countryside Skills lecturer Heather McNeill, who was named best academic support.
Heather (pictured), who is based at the West Highland College UHI in Broadford on Skye, was nominated by one of her students, Craig Muir. He said: “Having been accepted onto my course with no confidence in myself, the encouragement I got was fantastic. Heather made me see myself in a new way as a good person, I can’t explain just how much her chats meant to me and the good they did. I went on to win further education student of the year and with her support have now passed my HNC Horticulture. Basically, with her encouragement I have achieved more than I ever thought possible – I’m even in the process of starting up my own business.”
Heather added: “It is so rewarding to be appreciated by a student in this way, and it has been a real pleasure to watch Craig make such progress over the past two years.”
Sue Macfarlane, vice principal of academic affairs at West Highland College UHI congratulated Heather: “We are absolutely delighted that Heather’s commitment to her students has been recognised in this way. While all of our lecturers and support staff do their absolute utmost to ensure that our students have the best possible experience and the best possible outcome to their studies, Heather has clearly gone the extra mile in providing encouragement and support when most needed. To be recognised by her own students is praise indeed, and we add our many congratulations to Heather on receiving this award.”
Dean of students at the university, Dr Iain Morrison, added: “You cannot fool a student: they know high quality learning and teaching and great student support when they see it. The fact that there was a record number of nominations, covering every part of the university, suggests that our staff continue to provide excellent teaching and support for the people whose feedback they care about most, their students. The student testimony from these awards is genuinely moving at times and anyone considering studying with us can be assured they will be in good hands.”
The NC Crofting and Countryside skills course at West Highland College UHI sees students study a range of industry approved training courses such a chainsaw, pesticides and dry stone walling and combine classroom theory with practical hands on sessions in subject areas such as estate management, environmental studies, gardening, livestock and fisheries management.
Certificate Celebration: Students at Broadford recently celebrated the completion of the two full-time further education courses. The Outdoor Adventure students led a kayaking session for the Crofting and Countryside Skills students in Broadford Bay, followed by a burger and chips lunch – once again provided at a discount rate by Carter’s Cabin. A certificate presentation followed back at the college. Once again, students worked hard and are justifiably proud of their achievements. Lee and Heather are justifiably proud…and exhausted.