The New Year offers a chance for a big change, with Lews Castle College UHI offering a host of courses that open doors for school-leavers, work-returners or simply those ready for a new challenge.

Study options from night-classes to degree courses are detailed now online as LCC-UHI lays out courses from the creative to the practical, and from deep-dive research to stimulating new topics.

The start of a new term in January means the beginning of a new block of study, with students like Heather Randle keen to explain how support and structured learning helped her plot a path towards a new career.

Heather began to study for an HNC in Health Social and Childcare Studies but was unsure as to the direction her career might take her. She was also concerned whether she had the skills or the daily routine that would allow her to study effectively – all concerns answered by what was on offer.

She said: “This course offered insight into a variety of roles within the care sector. It was whilst doing the courses that my interests began to veer more towards working with children. The teaching and support I received throughout my studies was exceptional and I cannot praise the lecturers enough.

“As an adult returner I was very nervous. I had three dependent children and no experience of computing whatsoever. I was never sure that I was going to be able to complete even the first year of study, but the lecturers did everything they could to support me both academically and personally. They were understanding of my individual circumstances and were flexible where possible to suit my needs. 

“My HNC gave me the qualification essential to my current job and enabled me to gain experience in childcare whilst doing my degree, as it gave me the qualification needed to register with the SSSC.

“The degree, although not necessary for my current job, has been a means of expanding my understanding of child development and the needs of children.

“It has definitely given me greater confidence in my ability to fulfil my role and meet the needs of the children in my care, while working in partnership with their parents. It also means that there are other options for me should I wish to change my career at any point in the future.”

Experiences like Heather’s can be shared through a variety of continuing professional development (CPD) study options, including introductory modules that help students explore areas they think might interest them further.

For example, Introduction to a Career in Social Care ( is made up of five units that look at the sector in general, the essential skills for working within it, personal qualities, professional qualifications and sector regulation.

Exploring a career is just one element of what is offered from January onwards, with chances to expand or begin acquiring skills in the maritime sector, engineering and construction or in business, admin and IT.

For other students, the priority may be knowledge development to fulfil an interest or to support an existing role in the community but, whether you are a January school-leaver or a mature student wishing to build your skills portfolio, there is something for you at Lews Castle College UHI.

The full list of courses available from January is listed here together with all the contact details and advice needed to find out more.


A new training restaurant and cookery courses are the flagship developments of a wider educational outreach programme by Lews Castle College UHI.

With January 2022 just days away, the college was unveiling a huge range of evening classes and flexible courses to support the local community.

Raising the curtain on what is on offer at the campus is a major new development and investment in the college’s long-standing reputation for culinary excellence.

The initiative - part of a long-term development project at Lews Castle College - follows months of working closely with Cala Hotels to address the growing needs of the local hospitality sector.

The result of this collaboration is a raft of training opportunities kicking off in January. These are aimed at people from all walks of life, be they employed within hospitality, hoping to gain employment in the sector in future, or wishing to up their skills in the kitchen at home.

“We are aware of the need to support local business, and in doing so the wider islands’ economy, by developing training opportunities for young people seeking to make a career in professional cookery,” says Head of Department, Michael Smith.

“Our NPA and NC courses have also attracted numerous adult returners, too, seeking to develop their skills in the professional cookery area to access a wide range of job opportunities locally.”

He continues: “A training restaurant is our planned next step to extend the range of new hospitality courses we can offer. This too will seek to train up students for future and existing employment opportunities in local businesses and so be a means to support the wider islands’ economy.”

The only thing that isn’t quite ready is the restaurant’s name. But a social media campaign is now underway to garner suggestions from the public.

The college kicked off the naming campaign on December 15 with a live Christmas cook along with Development Chef James Mackenzie. If you missed the live stream, a recording of the event is still available on the Lews Castle College Facebook page.

The yummy cook along was a taster for anyone interested in perfecting their skills in the kitchen. 

Led by James, formerly Chef and owner of the acclaimed Digby Chicks on Stornoway’s Bank Street, the live event was an ideal introduction to the evening cooking course he will be running shortly. 

The course is a rare opportunity to work with an expert chef and develop skills in the art of making desserts, baking, and pastries.

The evening class will cover the full spectrum of sweet-making, from basic pastry work to more elaborate desserts. The course will also include presentation tips and the use of seasonal ingredients in a wide range of contemporary and classic recipes.

The evening class is a companion course to Lews Castle College’s other highly-rated Food and Drink courses, such as their National Progression Award “Intro to Professional Cookery” and their National Certificate-accredited “Professional Cookery” course.

However, if cooking is not your thing, there is a huge range of other evening classes and flexible courses to choose from, all of which start in January.

So if you wish to get your 2022 off to a fresh start, check out the available courses and get in touch with the college for further information.

 To learn more about the college’s certificated cooking courses, go to:

To find out more about evening classes and flexible courses, go to:

A short story of three researchers trapped in a sea of insects who quickly succumb to the inevitably of their fate is the winner of the first University of the Highlands and Islands Peter May fiction prize. 

Written by Gary Groves, aged 43,  from Elgin, titled ‘Monads', the winning submission, selected from a shortlist of five, wins £1000.

Kindly donated by Peter May in 2021, as part of the university's tenth birthday, this new prize provides a decade of student prizes for fictional writing.

Peter May, international bestselling crime writer, Scottish television screenwriter and novelist, said: "I wasn't quite sure what to expect and have been delighted with the quality of the shortlisted submissions. I want to praise all those who entered and encourage everyone to keep writing.

"Gary's work stood out. He draws us into the frightening, claustrophobic world of the research pod in this strange and compelling story.  He vividly delivers a metaphor of acceptance and surrender to age, with its accompanying deterioration of the mind. I look forward to reading what comes next."

Winning writer Gary, a student on the BA (Hons) creative writing in the Highlands and Islands said: "Receiving this prize has been a major confidence boost and it's been a real journey to get to this point.  I have so much gratitude for the people who make the course what it is, both lecturers and students, and Peter who has done an amazing thing in founding this new prize to support the development of creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

"When I started the course in 2018, I didn't know what to expect. I was a mature student returning to studying and was worried that I would be the odd one out in the class. Although I had written a number of short stories in the past, I had never actually shown them to anyone and was hesitant to let other people read what I had written. I'm in my third year now and I am already thinking about continuing to postgraduate studies."

The annual competition, coordinated by the university's development and alumni team, is open to all further and higher education students at the university and 2022 graduates. Submissions are welcomed in Gaelic, Scots or English by the 14 October 2022.

For more details on the entry process visit