University of the Highlands and Islands

Studying the Cutting-Edge

By University of the Highlands and Islands.

The University of the Highlands and Islands offers students the opportunities to study at 13 colleges and research centres, 70 local learning centres, or online from wherever they are in the world. Its diverse range of courses and research opportunities are enriched by the people, natural environment, economy, culture and heritage of the Highlands and Islands and its communities.

To celebrate Legends education sector, five international students share their experiences of studying and conducting cutting-edge research at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Cecile Limousin from France is studying for a BA (Hons) in Adventure Performance and Coaching at West Highland College UHI in Fort William.

I initially came to Scotland to learn traditional climbing and decided to stay to undertake the Adventure Performance and Coaching course to change my career. I chose to study at School of Adventure Studies because it offers a degree applied to adventure sports, which, to my knowledge, doesn't exist in France. The location, near Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis, was also a guarantee for meeting like-minded people to climb with. I wanted to live in an area with easy access to crags so I could go climbing before or after lectures!

Having met some students before applying, I knew the school also offers the opportunity to learn the basics of sports I didn’t practice, such sea-kayaking, river-kayaking, ski touring and winter climbing. We can also access National Governing Body qualifications with quality instructors, with the help of a credits system to lower costs.

To gain professional experience in parallel with my course, I’m conducting a research project with the French Climbing Team. I’m looking at high-level climbers’ psychological profiles to provide athletes and coaches with information to use in mental preparation for competitions and for the combined trials which will take place during the Olympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo.

Scotland is a great playground to practice traditional climbing. There are many crags to visit, my favourites are the sea cliffs of the west coast. There is a great diversity of routes to explore and a wealth of different types of rocks. I also enjoy the Scottish climbing community. Scottish climbers are easy going and open-minded. I learned everything I know about trad from them - from pure techniques and safety, to ethics regarding the environment and the responsible practice of our passion.

Lydia Niemi from the United States of America is studying for a PhD in Environmental Science at North Highland College UHI in Thurso.

I’m an American PhD research student at the University of the Highlands and Islands. I grew up in Ohio and completed my undergraduate degree at the College of Wooster in my home state. I started my PhD in environmental science after receiving a competitive scholarship from the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation Scholars Programme in 2016. I’m based at the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso and the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen.

My research focuses on the fate of human pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment, particularly pharmaceutical degradation and persistence during wastewater treatment and in surface water. I chose to study with the University of the Highlands and Islands because of the standard of excellence in environmental science and cutting-edge research carried out in different disciplines across Scotland. Each site and research group is situated to take best advantage of the local environment and culture, which offers the students fantastic opportunities to successfully complete original and high quality research.

Through the University of the Highlands and Islands, I’m in the best position to carry out effective research that is meaningful not only in the Highlands, but also throughout Scotland and the UK. Also, as an enthusiastic hill walker, skier and snorkeler, Thurso is an ideal location to combine work and outdoor play.

During my studies, Scotland has become an important place to me both professionally and personally. Overall, I am inspired by the passion, respect and care Scotland shows towards its natural environment - especially the efforts to promote sustainable water regulation and preserve the dramatic, beautiful landscapes.

Jennifer Cocking from Canada is studying for a PhD at the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI, Oban. Her work uses technology to research marine plastics. 

I have always been drawn to the water, even though I grew up far from the sea in a small town near Toronto, Canada. Now, I am grateful for the incredible opportunity to conduct novel research in a field about which I am extremely passionate and in an environment that encourages a stronger connection to the ocean.

When I received the note about my current PhD position at the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI in Oban, I had just stepped off a tall ship voyage. The research advert outlined the development of a specialized infrared camera to detect plastics in the marine environment from an aerial drone.

Sailing the waters of the northeastern US where I had lived for several years had stoked an already strong passion for marine conservation. With an engineering background and a sense of urgency to join the fight against plastic pollution full-time, I eagerly applied for the position at SAMS UHI the same day I had come ashore in the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The striking landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and Islands remind me of this part of home and I love exploring the wonderful, lush playgrounds that provide endless opportunity for outdoor adventure.

Giordano Antonucci from Italy is studying for a BA (Hons) in Golf Management at North Highland College UHI in Dornoch. 

I’m currently a second year Golf Management BA (Hons) student at the University of Highlands and Islands. I’m from Vinci, a little town in Tuscany, Italy.

My campus at North Highland College UHI is based in Dornoch, home of the renowned Royal Dornoch Golf Club. The area is quiet, but the atmosphere between the students and the locals is friendly and polite. There are many things to do and facilities where I like to spend my free time away from the books, such as the gym, supermarkets and football pitch.

When I first came to Scotland, I thought that I couldn’t manage the cold winter and the low temperatures, but after a year I got used to and I don’t mind the weather at all. The best thing about Scotland after the landscapes are the people who are friendly and helpful.

I decided to study with the University of the Highlands and Islands because I believe that it’s a great opportunity to get a degree which will give me the chance to find the job I always wanted to do in the golf industry. In addition, I wanted to be a name instead of a number and that’s why I chose the University of the Highlands and Islands.

I’ve had some great work experiences such as working at Royal Dornoch and Royal Sydney Golf Club and I’m sure that there are still more to come!

Euan Fundingsland from Norway is studying for a BA (Hons) in Marine and Coastal Tourism at West Highland College UHI in Fort William.

I’m originally from Stavanger, Norway, but was born in Japan and grew up in The Netherlands. It’s fair to say I have moved around quite a bit. I am currently in my second year of the Marine and Coastal Tourism BA (Hons) at West Highland College UHI. I studied a winter outdoor programme in the Lofoten Islands of Norway before deciding to apply for the degree course here in Fort William.

I chose to come to Scotland and, more specifically Fort William, because I enjoy living and learning in a landscape and environment which inspires me. It has a great mix of coastal and mountain scenery which is perfect for anyone wishing to lead an active outdoor lifestyle. I spent my first year living at the new student accommodation. This was where I met plenty of new people and students going into their first year.

I was attracted to the close community and the mix of practical and classroom learning at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Because of this, I have been very lucky to gain experience through my work at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and my work placement with a local project to establish a new marina, close to the town. The Marine and Coastal Tourism degree is a perfect opportunity to be a part of a growing sector, something which will be very important for the future of Scottish tourism.

With thanks to the students and everyone at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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