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The University of the Highlands and Islands has announced the appointment of Dr Beth Mouat as its first islands' strategy director.

This new post will lead the delivery of its islands' strategy which sets out the university partnership's plans to enhance its activity for the benefits of staff, students and communities across Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

A native Shetlander, where she is joint head of marine science and technology at NAFC Marine Centre UHI, Dr Mouat says she is excited to have the opportunity to take forward such an important islands-focused project:

"Our island communities and businesses are diverse, resilient, and innovative, but they face significant challenges.  The islands' strategy will set out a positive path for the university partnership, working together with key stakeholders to strengthen our significant contribution to sustainable social, economic and cultural development for all of the islands in our region.

Professor Neil Simco, vice-principal (research and impact) at the University of the Highlands and Islands, congratulated Dr Mouat on her appointment:

"I am delighted to have Beth leading this project. It is important that this strategy is driven by staff who understand our island communities and who have direct connection to the issues they face. She is already a well-respected academic and researcher and I'm sure this new appointment will benefit from her experience of collaborating both inside and outside our university partnership.

"Our plan sets out how we will work with others and use our strengths in further education, higher education and research to have a beneficial impact across the islands and in the communities which are home to our staff and students."

Objectives under the new islands' strategy include increasing island-based research activity, enhancing strategies for attracting and retaining talent, continuing to support the culture, languages and heritage of the islands and further engagement with industry to continue to build a skilled workforce in line with changing opportunities and needs.

Dr Mouat will attend the second meeting of the Islands Forum which is being held remotely on Friday February 19.