More than 70 students and staff members from around the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership will attend an online event to mark International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March. 

Staff have organised a conference to discuss gender equality in education, to celebrate the achievements of women across the university partnership and to investigate what else can be done to address challenges female staff may face. It will be the university’s fourth annual International Women’s Day event and the first to be held wholly online.

The free conference, which is open to anyone working in the education sector, will feature a range of staff, student and guest speakers. Ash Morgan, Vice-President for Further Education at the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, will open the day with a presentation about challenging the status quo to ensure all women are included in International Women’s Day celebrations. Dr Lois Gray, the university’s Academic Lead Developer for Engineering, will speak about women in engineering and Dr Natalie Jester, from the University of Gloucestershire, will deliver a keynote address on ensuring marginalised communities are represented in college and university curricula.

The university’s event is part of a wider campaign to mark International Women’s Day, which will include social media activity and the production of an e-book. The e-book, which will be published in May, will share the ways the University of Highlands and Islands promotes and supports gender equality and balance in education.

Alex Walker (pictured above) from the university’s Learning and Teaching Academy, is organising the conference. She said: “It has been great to see our International Women’s Day event evolve over the last four years. Each year the organising group considers a focus for the programme, with this year exploring our own learning and teaching practices, professional development and research in relation to gender equality.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr Natalie Jester as our keynote speaker who will explore the urgency of a representative curriculum in tertiary education. Recognising the potential for the topics to be of benefit to others, we are also working with colleagues to produce an e-book which will be openly published and which we hope will provide a useful resource for the sector. It is also important that we acknowledge the wider significance of International Women’s Day as being a day to celebrate women across the globe and critically reflect on what we can all do to challenge ongoing inequalities in and beyond education.”

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, which highlights the importance of challenging gender bias and inequality and celebrating women's achievements.

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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:

  • Degree Show dates: December 2020 – 5 January 2021
  • Venue: Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre
  • Graduating Students: Katherine Taylor and Hector Start
  • UHI Art Degree Online Exhibition in partnership with Art North: 16th December -

Like many other events and celebrations, the Lews Castle College UHI annual Degree Show was postponed in May this year due to COVID-19.  This impacted on art colleges nationally, creating a situation where students only option was to exhibit their work digitally or, like Uist-based students, delayed in the hope that the situation would allow for public exhibitions at a later date. That time has arrived, with the 2020 Degree Show opening to the public on Saturday 5th December at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre. A culmination of four years of work, Degree Shows are an important bridge between art college and a student’s onward career as a professional artist.

This year, two graduating students from the BA (Hons) Fine Art now have the opportunity to hold their Degree Show. Katherine Taylor and Hector Start have studied with Lews Castle College UHI for five years, starting with a 1-year NC Art & Design course before progressing onto the BA (Hons) Fine Art. Both relocated to Uist from Moray after leaving school and have lived and studied in Uist since. Their art practice has developed over that time, taking very diverse paths in terms of their studio practice and theoretical concerns. However, both are firmly influenced by their experience of living in Uist and their connection with the environment around them.