SAMS news room

Forming a new University

SAMS takes its place as a founder member of the new University of Highlands and Islands alongside twelve other institutes serving a region twice the size of Wales. Undergraduate and postgraduate students taking the world-class degrees on offer at our institute will now graduate with a degree from the University of Highlands and Islands.

2nd February was a historic day for the Scottish Association for Marine Science as UHI Millennium Institute becomes the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

Following confirmation from the Privy Council, the milestone will be marked by celebrations across the region, including a reception at the marine institute for staff, students and key local community members.

UHI comprises thirteen colleges, specialist institutions and research centres spread across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; an area twice the size of Wales.  It uses information technologies to link together students and staff to bring access to higher education to dispersed communities.  The achievement of university title by UHI is the realisation of a long-time ambition for the region to have its own university to support economic development and to help sustain rural and island communities.

Announcing the achievement, Professor Matthew MacIver CBE, chair of the UHI Court, said: “This is a defining moment in the history of the Highlands and Islands.  For centuries we have been exporting intellectual talent to all corners of the globe.  We are now at a point where that flow can be reversed.  The new University of the Highlands and Islands will be a powerhouse for the economic, social and cultural development of the region.”

Student at SAMS, Karen Alexander, said: “As someone born and bred in the Highlands and Islands, and undertaking a PhD through UHI, I feel a real sense of pride that UHI has achieved University status.  We recently won a prestigious UK student award for enterprising students. Competing against internationally recognised universities at the time, it’s great that we too can now stand among their ranks.”

The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) is one of the UK’s leading independent marine research institutes. Based on the west coast of Scotland, its 140 staff research climate change, marine renewable energy, sustainable use of the marine environment, mitigations to resource extraction, and the Arctic system. SAMS also develops innovative technology solutions to ocean observation, exploitation and conservation and teaches undergraduates and postgraduates in marine sciences.

Mr Jim Mather, MSP for Argyll & Bute and Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism said: “I am delighted to that the UHI Millennium Institute has gained University Title. This will deliver new impetus and new confidence to the Highlands and Islands and remedy a major omission that has been present for far too long.

"It also means that the good sense, practical skills, resilience, academic insights and inquiring minds that have always existed north of the Highland Line now have a new local platform to develop yet further contributions to academic, economic, social, cultural and environmental developments with a distinctly Highlands and Islands voice that will add materially to the wellbeing of Scotland.

"I am genuinely excited at the prospects and will always be on hand to help the full potential of UHI flower to its greatest possible extent.”

Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said:  "Today marks a fantastic achievement not only for all staff, students, and supporters but also for the Highlands and Islands. However, university title does not mark the end of the road for UHI. Rather it heralds the start of a process which will see this innovative model for delivering higher education developing further. I look forward to seeing all stakeholders working with the new university and playing their fullest part in taking UHI to the next level, so that it may serve the people and the economy of the Highlands and Islands.”

Argyll & Bute Councillor Elaine Robertson said: “Being a University town will  offer opportunities for expansion of our existing excellent learning facilities, enable the local community to access academic opportunities to degree level and will be of great economic value to this area.  I know there has been an enormous amount of work gone into achieving this status and would like to congratulate all involved.”


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