Addressing big global issues
Most people have not learnt much about the ocean and so consider marine science a 'niche' discipline. But nothing could be further from the truth! Earth is a blue planet, and life arose in the sea. More than 95% of the three-dimensional space on our planet that harbours life is in the sea - indeed the terrestrial world we inhabit is a rather recently inhabited niche. Ecologically, the oceans are the largest and most important ecosystem on our planet that produce most of the oxygen we breathe, are critical to controlling our climate and recycle most of our waste.
The oceans also contribute vital resources including seafood, oil and gas, renewable energy, and minerals. Economically, shipping and marine tourism are major global industries. In 2015, the Scottish Government valued Scotland's blue economy at £8.25 billion Gross Value Added. As such a career dedicated to the marine environment is not niche, but a worthy undertaking that deals with globally important issues.
Diverse and satisfying employment
Marine science tends to attract young people who love the natural world, have numerical abilities, are both physically and mentally active and want to make a difference. An ever growing number of jobs require or benefit from a solid understanding of the marine environment. Our 'careers' pages showcase what some of our graduates have been doing since they graduated.
As a research institute, SAMS seems to pass on a particular passion for research and we thus have a higher than average proportion of graduates who want to remain in marine research and so move into postgraduate programmes.
Why Scotland's university on the beach?
Several universities offer programmes in marine biology, aquatic science, oceanography or occasionally even marine science. So, what speaks for your child coming to SAMS rather than any other?
Most important is the personal nature of studying at a research institute rather than a campus university. Students engage with each other and the research community from their first year. There are approximately 300 people at SAMS on a daily basis, of which 150 are staff and 150 students.
Secondly, SAMS is among the oldest marine science organisations in the UK and has an excellent reputation for research. We investigate all aspects of the marine environment and work all over the world. There is a strong international ethos at the institute and the research excellence culture means that students are exposed to the most up-to-date information available. The research culture also encourages independent and critical thinking.
Thirdly, students studying at SAMS have unique opportunities to develop an impressive CV during their course of study. There are opportunities to help with research projects, to gain fieldwork experience including aboard research vessels, to spend time in the Arctic, and to develop a professional network. In large universities this is often simply not possible.
Finally, Oban is the perfect location to study marine science. It is a safe town with little crime. It is a place where trust is rarely abused. Here students can flourish as individuals. Living in the highlands and islands encourages an active outdoor life with amazing opportunties to getting close to nature. Here they breathe the sea both intellectually and for real! It's a great place for anyone with an adventurous streak!
The course fees for this programme vary for a) Scottish and EU (outside UK) students, b) UK students from outside Scotland, and c) international students who do not reside in the UK or EU. Please visit the University of the Highlands and Islands website for current fees - click here.
How much a student needs to live on depends on their personal needs and chosen lifestyle. Below is an idea of monthly living expenses of a typical student:
|Rent in shared accommodation or small flat||£200-£400|
|Bills for electricity, gas, water||£30-£100|
|TV and internet||£15-£30|
|Food and household items||£130-£200|
|Travel to SAMS from Oban by bus||£45|
|Other (hairdresser, gifts, dentist etc)||£40|
|TOTAL||£600-£1,050 per month
Other costs to consider
Council Tax: Students can apply for exemption from Council Tax, which is otherwise added to the cost and varies with type of property
Deposit: You are very likely to have to pay a deposit for accommodation that will be repaid if you cause no damage but you need to budget this in
Medical expenses: We have excluded these here as they vary from person to person (eg glasses, prescriptions, treatments)
Loan repayments: These too are excluded but if you need to make any you must of course include them in your personalised budget
Car: If you choose to run a car, your monthly expenditure will go up significantly (road tax, insurance, petrol, maintenance, MOT)
Clothing: Depending on personal choices and needs
Home travel: This too is excluded in the above table as these costs vary individually
Visas: International students may have to pay a fee for their visa to enter the UK
Student hostel accommodation: This currently costs IRO £500 p.c.m. including all bills and internet costs (not payable over the summer)
Various funding opportunities are available, depending on where you come from and your personal circumstances. Click here for more...
Some students have been lucky to obtain sponsorship eg from the Society for Underwater Technology.
Support for home students
Most British students are eligible to apply for a loan to cover tuition fees and may addionally qualify for a loan or bursary to contribute to paying living costs.
Scottish students and those who have resided in Scotland for at least three years should apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland as soon as they receive a conditional (or unconditional) university place.
Students from other parts of the UK (or who have resided legally in other parts of the UK for the past three years at least) should apply via UK.gov (for England), Student Finance Wales or Student Finance NI respectively.
For further information on student loans, interest rates and repayment: www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk/
Support for EU students
EU students are currently eligible to apply for a loan to cover tuition fees only from the Student Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS). For further information please see students living in the European Union.
For autumn 2020 entry, the Scottish Government extends existing arrangements for the duration of a student's study programme. This means that EU students starting in the autumn of 2020 as first year marine science undergraduate students at SAMS UHI will NOT have to pay tuition fees for the four years of the BSc honours programme.
There is no substantial information available yet regarding the changes Brexit might make for EU citizens who are - or are wanting to - study in Scotland.
Support for international students
There is no centralised support agency to help international students but several countries offer bursaries to their nationals to study abroad, and there are support arrangement for specific programmes targeted at international students. Our Aquaculture, Environment and Society MSc course for example provides full studentships to international students. More information for international students...
- >About 21 months before hoping to start university (i.e. after Christmas in S5) prospective students and their families and friends start researching what to study and where
- >March/April (18 months before starting uni): Attend open days at the various institutions to find out whether you'd like to live in a certain place and study a particular programme
- >September (1 year before starting uni): Begin UCAS application (list up to five programmes in order of preference)
- >Mid January: UCAS application deadline (beware Oxbridge and medicine/veterinary medicine/dentisty have October deadlines)
- >Feb-April: Applicants receive decisions from universities via UCAS. Types of decisions: Unconditional offer; Conditional offer (place offered provided certain conditions are met / grades achieved); Unsuccessful application. Applicants who receive offers will then usually be invited to 'applicants days' to find our about the programmes they have applied for. Students who might need to apply for a visa to study in the UK can begin the visa application process once they have received an offer.
- >Accepting / rejecting offers: If the applicant receives more than one offer, they must next decide which one to accept. They may also retain an insurance choice as a back-up - usually where conditions are easier to meet.
- >UCAS will then send the application to the applicants' chosen universities.
- >From February you can apply for financial support - see www.gov.uk/student-finance for details.
- >Once you receive your results (if conditional), you should organise accommodation for a September start.
- >Clearing: If a student cannot meet the conditions after receiving their exam results, they should consider applying for places during the summer clearning process. You might need to make compromises on the programme and institution, but you might still be able to register for a programme that is of interest to you and that will develop your skills and expertise.
- >Induction week is when it all starts - at SAMS induction is in early September. You will meet your new class mates, the support team and your first year lecturers. You will also find out about clubs and societies at uni and in town. And the following week you will begin your lectures - and then you are on the four-year journey of discovery!
For most students going to university also means leaving home and starting to live independently or with friends. This is a difficult time that requires some adjustments on all sides. Many young people will for the first time have to look fully after themselves, including shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing, budgeting and paying bills. By moving into student accommodation many students also will live in simpler and smaller accommodation than they did at home.
To help students settle into this life we try to offer student accommodation to all first year undergraduate students. There is accommodation for 11 available at SAMS, and a further 22 units are being developed in Oban. Please read up on what we offer on our dedicated accommodation pages. Fiona Tindall will help settle all new students. In subsequent years, however, students are expected to find private accommodation. More about accommodation...
As SAMS is a small organisation with a small number of students, staff and fellow students are more aware of any students who may be struggling than in a bigger university. Previous students have been referring to registry officer, Mrs Polly Crooks, as course 'mother' and each student will be allocated a Personal Academic Tutor.
Personal Academic Tutor (PAT)
Each UHI student is assigned a named Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) whose responsibility it is to provide the student with academic support throughout the duration of their studies. Your child's PAT will be in contact with them at least once each semester to review their academic progress; this is in addition to an introductory meeting at the start of each academic year.
We have expert student support staff who offer support and guidance on a wide range of topics including finances, disability support, learning support and personal issues. To contact your local support officer please contact Mrs Polly Crooks (01631 559335 or E: Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk) for undergraduates or Mrs Fiona Tindall (01631 559427 ornE: Fiona.Tindall@sams.ac.uk) for postgraduates.
The university aims to create a supportive and welcoming environment for all and strives to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities. Our methods of learning, teaching and assessment are flexible and designed to suit a range of needs. By offering effective support, we aim to enable all students to participate fully in all activities while studying with us.
All students and prospective students are encouraged to disclose any specific needs as early as possible. Depending on specific circumstances, students may be eligible for financial support to meet the additional costs of studies and help with any specific items of equipment students may need. Your key contact at SAMS is Mrs Polly Crooks (E: Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk / 01631 559 335).
We currently only run open days for our undergraduate programme. We strongly recommend that any applicant comes and visits us. We are different and students usually walk through the door and know that we SAMS is just where they want to study, or that it definitely is not for them. And we want our students to be happy with their choice, because happy students are good students.
We usually have two open days, one in spring and one in the autumn. We welcome applicants and their families and friends, as well as teachers or anyone who wants to find out about our programmes and set-up. For applicants from very far away, who might not be able to attend an open day, we hope that some of our student videos provide a bit of a feel for SAMS. We also hope to live-stream some of our open days in the future.
If you would like to visit but cannot make the dates, then please contact Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk / +44 (0) 1631 559 335 to arrange for an individual visit.
Next open day date
Friday, 1 Nov 2019: 13.30 - 16.30 at SAMS (in Oban)
You will need to register for the (free) open day so we can plan and cater for the number of visitors. The main contact for applications is Mrs Polly Crooks: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to stay when you visit?
Visiting parents have previously stayed in the following accommodation providers in the area
- >Ards House Connel
- >Ardtorna eco-friendly 5 gold star B&B in Barcaldine
- >Backpackers Plus refurbished hostel accommodation in an old Oban chuch
- >Barriemore Guesthouse on Oban's seafront
- >Blarcreen luxury guest house in Ardchattan on Loch Etive
- >Corriemar House B&B on Oban's seafront
- >Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges self-catering, 3 miles south of Oban
- >Falls of Lora Hotel Connel
- >Manor House Oban
- >Oban Backpackers for budget dorm accommodation in central Oban
- >Oban Bay Hotel and Spa on Oban's seafront
- >Oban Caledonian Hotel opposite Oban railway and bus station
- >Oban Youth Hostel on Oban's seafront for en-suite dorm and family accommodation
- >Oyster Inn Hotel and Restaurant, Connel
- >Perle Oban, luxury hotel on the harbour near the railway station
- >Queens Hotel on Oban's seafront
- >Ranald Hotel Oban
- >Ronebhal B&B in Connel
- >Rowantree Hotel Oban
- >Royal Hotel Oban
- >Strumhor B&B, Connel
- >Wellpark House on the esplanade in Oban
- >... and for those looking for something very special try The Isle of Eriska Hotel
Tours and trips around Oban
The area provides opportunities for many exciting weekends, days or half-days out. Here is a small selection of possible tours - for more visit Great Days Out:
- >The latest addition to our tourist destination is the 1745 Dunollie House in Oban, could be linked with a visit to the Oban War and Peace Museum and the Oban Distillery
- >Go to the islands (Iona, Mull, Colonsay etc) with Caledonian MacBrayne
- >Visit the archaeological sites with museum and cafe/shop at Kilmartin
- >Go for an afternoon to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary at Barcaldine
- >Explore Cruachan, the 'hollow mountain' and find out about hydro schemes and renewable energy: display, tour and cafe/shop
- >If you are looking for a day or half-day of gorge scrambling, canyoning, canoeing, kayaking, archery or coasteering in and around the Oban area, contact Stramash
- >Go for a walk in Glencoe and learn about its geology and history at the award winning Glencoe visitor centre
- >Sea.fari Adventures offers exciting boat trips from the lovely island of Seil - and build in a trip across to the slate island of Easdale (home to the annual world stone skimming championship) and its museum too
- >Go south to the Craignish peninsula and explore some of the lovely art and crafts available
- >Magical wildlife boat trips are also provided by Coastal Connection, Argyll Charters and Sealife Adventures
- >Lovely gardens in the area include: An Cala, Ardchattan Priory Garden, Angus Garden, Arduaine Garden, Kinlochlaich House Gardens, Ardmaddy Castle Gardens.
- >Go island walking: a small ferry takes you from Oban to Kerrera, where you can walk to the tea garden and bunkhouse and visit the ruined Gylen Castle. Or why not take a ferry to Lismore for a walk or cycle - and don't forget to stop at the Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre with cafe. Or go across to the Isle of Luing and visit the Atlantic Islands Centre with cafe and gift shop
- >Learn ice or rock climbing at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven (also available for families!)
- >Visit Inverary: Your tour might include a visit to the Castle and Gardens, the Jail (interactive museum), a trip to the highland township of Auchindrain, and finally some well deserved pub food in the atmospheric George Hotel or seafood in the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.