UHI Outer Hebrides is working hard to provide support and advice to those students who are adversely affected by the cost-of-living crisis.  Some students are reaching breaking point, with 92% of students saying that this is affecting their mental health, but only approximately 20% (1 in 5), has had government help.

The cost-of-living crisis presents an ongoing challenge to people and families across Scotland, with many struggling to make ends meet. Supporting our students through these difficult times is a key focus area of student services’ work.

UHI Outer Hebrides Principal and CEO Hannah Ritchie-Muir commented:

“A recent survey by The National Union of Students involving 3,500 students and apprentices, has shown that 96% of students are cutting back on spending, with 33% of them managing on £50 a month after paying rent and bills. This is an incredibly worrying time, and we are doing all we can to support our students.

As well as our new initiatives outlined below, we are working closely with The Highlands and Islands Student Association (HISA) to highlight the plight of our students and our campaign to ensure the government is working to provide the support our students deserve”.

A series of events and initiatives have been created to support our students:

  • Comunn Cubby

On the first Wednesday of the month students and staff will be able to browse through second-hand clothes, shoes, blankets, games, and books. Any donations will go to our charity of the year, Western Isles Association for Mental Health.

  • Money Matters Advice Drop-ins

Student Services are offering money matters and personal finances advice drop-ins for students. Our staff can support students with budgets, savings, housing advice and more. These sessions are also available online for all our students.

  • Student Development Fund

The Student Development Fund has been established to ensure that students do not miss out on exciting opportunities. Students may have the chance to take part in something which will advance personal development, build on knowledge and expand horizons. We don't want students to miss out on due to financial constraints.

“Thanks to the Student Development Fund, I was able to attend a film residency which was an amazing, once in a lifetime, experience! I had the opportunity to collaborate with amazing people who have helped me to take my ideas into the big screen.  It has not only taught me a lot of new skills and helped me to grow as a filmmaker but has also increased my confidence to work in a team. I have also made many long-lasting friendships!” - Nicole Skowronska, film student. 

  • Warm Spaces Campaign

Study and student spaces at our UHI campuses are fully accessible, and we encourage students to come and make use of the building instead of spending money on heating and expensive wi-fi contracts at home. These spaces include:

  • Workspaces
  • Charging points
  • Free wi-fi
  • Computer access
  • Student kitchen facilities
  • Student common room
  • Discounted student café prices
  • Food Banks

The college’s Business department has been working with the local Salvation Army to collect items for their food bank. These donations are open to anyone who might need them. We are collecting donations in our Stornoway Campus Foyer and anyone in need can visit the Food Bank at Stornoway Golf Club next to the College which is open 11am – 2pm on Tuesday and Saturday.

Students in the Southern Isles can also make donations and find support at their local Food Bank -https://www.facebook.com/groups/Uistandbarrafoodbank/

Promotion of National Campaigns

We are working closely with the Scottish Government and local organisations to promote opportunities for staff and students. This includes National Housing Day on November 18th and the new Government website - https://costofliving.campaign.gov.scot/

About UHI Outer Hebrides:   

A 10-week public consultation on the proposed merger of UHI Outer Hebrides, UHI North Highland and UHI West Highland has been launched today (Monday 8 August).

The proposed partnership is intended to create a larger, more significant institution within the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and Highland region, bringing together 9,000 students and 600 staff in 19 rural and island campus locations.

The three colleges face similar challenges including funding cuts, rising costs and a declining demographic. The merger group says that by bringing them together, they become more resilient, efficient, and financially sustainable.

Music students from UHI will be showcasing their skills at the Glasgow International Piping Festival tomorrow (9 August) - one of Scotland's biggest live music events.

Students and alumni from UHI's applied music course will play a range of traditional tunes with piping connections as part of a live session. The set will include a new tune specially written by fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson, UHI's applied music Programme Leader, to celebrate the ongoing partnership between UHI and the National Piping Centre.

UHI has been working with the National Piping Centre for many years to provide opportunities for music students, including specialist tuition and work experience. Several graduates from UHI's applied music degree have also gone on to work at the centre, including Ailis Sutherland from Kirriemuir who is a piping instructor and Ellie McLaren from Braemar who secured a role as a marketing assistant.