A new economic impact report reveals the economic contribution Lews Castle College UHI makes to the local economy – contributing £24 million and supporting 230 jobs throughout the Outer Hebrides.

The College has a total student body of 2,250 people across its further and higher education courses. The curriculum offering for students is at the heart of the College and it aims to meet the needs and expectations of both students and employers from the Butt to Barra.

With new plans for a campus redevelopment as part of The Islands Deal it is hoped that LCC UHI will further increase its role in the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The proposed redevelopment project will allow the College to deliver training in more flexible and innovative ways as well as meeting the learning needs of individuals, businesses, and communities.

The report, which was commissioned by the University partnership last year, has been produced by the independent consultancy, Biggar Economics. 

The findings also reveal that the partnership’s impact across Scotland has grown by between 20% and 25% since it was last measured in 2010, mainly due to an increase in staff and graduates. The partnership achieved full university status in 2011 and will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in February 2021. 

However, the authors highlight that the University’s value goes beyond its financial contribution, explaining: “The benefits of the university extend beyond the significant gross value added and jobs measures. It supports sustainable and inclusive economic wellbeing and social development in the broadest sense, for people, communities and employers across the region. It supports heritage and culture, the economy, the environment, the regional health sector and it offers pathways through tertiary education that give routes to personal and collective growth and development. 

Lews Castle College Principal Sue Macfarlane said: “This report clearly demonstrates the importance of Lews Castle College to the local economy and community, particularly at this very difficult time.  We fully intend to build on this success, working with our partners across the Western Isles as well as colleagues across the University, to ensure the College is at the centre of the economic recovery of the islands ”

The University of the Highlands and Islands’ economic impact assessment report is available in the publications section of the university’s website.  


Lews Castle College UHI have been working with Applied Arts Scotland and the British Council to deliver digital training packages for artisans in Afghanistan.

"We have been working in partnership with Turquoise Mountain, Charles, Prince of Wales's initiative to revive historic areas and traditional crafts, to provide jobs and skills.

"Netty Sopata, our Lecturer in Fashion and Design, delivered live training sessions to artisans from Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway, with a translator (English/Persian) present for both sessions.

One of the tasks set was for artisans to capture images of how and where they work – to be able to tell their story visually. These were assessed and they received translated audio files as feedback.

The University of the Highlands and Islands has appointed Professor Todd Walker as their next principal and vice-chancellor.

Professor Walker is currently provost and deputy vice-chancellor at University of New England, which operates several campuses in the state of New South Wales, Australia. He leads the academic, quality, and indigenous portfolios at University of New England and is the chair of UNE Partnerships, a registered training organisation delivering further education.

He is an accomplished clinical cytologist with strong teaching, research and consultancy credentials. He has a degree in medical biotechnology, a PhD in molecular oncology and a graduate certificate in university leadership and management, all from Charles Sturt University.

He has worked in multi-campus, regional universities in Australia for over 20 years including, Charles Sturt University, University of Ballarat and Federation University Australia, where he co-led the creation of the university through the acquisition and merger of the Gippsland campus of Monash University as deputy vice-chancellor (engagement).

Garry Coutts, Chair of the University Court, said: "Professor Walker's background makes him an ideal leader for us as we approach our tenth birthday as a university serving the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

"With an impressive 25-year career in senior academic leadership and management, he brings significant networking and experience to the role. He understands and values both further and higher education and has worked across institutions with multiple campuses based in communities with very different needs.

"Our communities need their university now and in the future. Whether it is training people in new skills, nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, or working with business to ensure they have access to the best research to help them grow and thrive, our university partnership will play a vital role in supporting the recovery of our region from the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. I am convinced Professor Walker is the right person at the right time to take us to another level."

Professor Walker said: "I am delighted to be joining the University of the Highlands and Islands, as its next principal and vice-chancellor at an exciting time in its development and growth. I look forward to working collaboratively with staff and students, partners and principals, community and government as we build and strengthen the university partnership.

"I believe the University of the Highlands and Islands is poised for a bright future and I am honoured and humbled to lead the partnership and all staff through the next chapter of the university's development."

Professor Walker will take up his appointment on 1 February 2021. He replaces Professor Clive Mulholland who retired in July 2019 and will be the university's third principal and vice-chancellor. He will join the university exactly ten years to the day since the University of the Highlands and Islands was founded.