A £19m initiative by the University of the Highlands and Islands, to develop a school encompassing health, social care and wellbeing, has secured a £4 million investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The new school will enable the university to develop and align its curriculum and research at all levels to meet the needs of the health and social care sectors across the region, but also including areas of life science and health service management and administration.
The university will work closely and develop educational and research ideas in partnership with the NHS, HIE, local authorities, the Scottish and UK governments, and business as well as other universities and colleges and international partners.
Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “This funding will play a crucial role in helping us to achieve one of our most important strategic aims. A school focusing on health, social care and wellbeing, will have a transformational impact on healthcare training and research in the region. It will improve access to medical education and enhance our understanding and experience of clinical practice in remote and rural contexts. We are looking forward to working with Highlands and Islands Enterprise on this exciting initiative.”
The HIE investment is targeted on enhanced research capacity in key regional themes such as digital health, diabetes and remote and rural health where the University of the Highlands and Islands is already internationally renowned. It will support eight principal investigators, six post-doctoral researchers and two research technicians.
Morven Cameron, HIE’s head of academic development, said: “A strong university sector is crucial to a successful region. We very much welcome the university’s proposal to establish this new school and are pleased to be able to support the development. The new school will support a thriving Inverness Campus and campuses across the region. It fits well with our ambitions for inward investment and growth in the life science sector, including new business formation. The associated innovation in health care delivery will also support our work in strengthening communities, including in fragile areas.”
Discussions are also ongoing which could see the school of health and wellbeing underpinned by the transfer of pre-registration nurse education in the region from the University of Stirling to the University of the Highlands and Islands. It is hoped that students joining for academic year 2017/18, in Inverness and Stornoway, will be the first cohort of nursing undergraduates set to train as part of the new school.
The school is projected to increase the number of health-related students by up to 300 over the course of the next five years.