Education and universities

University Principals on Orkney visit

The Principals of three of Scotland’s universities have been looking at new opportunities for collaborative working during a two-day visit to Orkney.

The visit involved the Principals of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Robert Gordon University and Heriot-Watt University.

They took part in a range of discussions with Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), along with other key agencies.

During their two days in Orkney, the Principals visited Stromness, the site of the planned Orkney research and innovation campus and base for Heriot-Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technologies.

They also visited the Pier Arts Centre, Maeshowe Visitor Centre and Orkney College UHI and met representatives of the European Marine Energy Centre and organisations involved in Community Planning in Orkney.

Charlotte Wright, HIE Chief Executive, said:

“We very much welcome the interest and enthusiasm shown by those involved in this weeks’ visit. This has been a great opportunity to showcase the international importance of Orkney’s renewable energy and other sectors, and to demonstrate the potential for increased university activity here, particularly as the new research and innovation campus takes shape.

“Universities are crucial to innovation and research and development for new projects. Greater university presence will support the islands’ ambitions, not just around energy, but in health, tourism, culture and other areas.”

OIC Leader James Stockan said:

“Universities have a key role in supporting opportunities for sustainable economic development through research and innovation and the provision of learning opportunities. 

“We were very pleased to welcome the Principals to Orkney and to explore the potential for more collaborative working with each other and the wider community, in ways that benefit the universities and support the growth of our local economy.”

Professor Richard Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said:

“Heriot-Watt University has had a campus here on the island since 1989 undertaking world-leading marine technology, energy research and teaching from this unique environment and vibrant business community.

“We are delighted to be in discussions these past two days about possible new and additional opportunities to work in partnership with others. We hope to shape new collaborations for the future that will support growth and transform innovation activities, building on our collective strengths in research, teaching and innovation.”

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal of Robert Gordon University, said:

“RGU has a strong tradition of working with other institutions to bring about economic, social and cultural regeneration.

“I believe that Orkney has enormous opportunities to be a beacon of innovation that can attract global attention in selected themes, and we will work closely with the Island Council and with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and with our partner universities, to help make this happen.”

Professor Clive Mulholland, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said:

“Orkney is a special location renowned for its history, culture and environment and Orkney College UHI is an important asset to the University of the Highlands and Islands, with centres such as the Agronomy Institute, Archaeology Institute and Institute for Northern Studies recognised for their cutting-edge work.

“We welcome the opportunity to explore how we can strengthen existing partnerships and build new ones to contribute to local and regional development.”

The visit by the Principals ended with a Slovakian meal prepared by hospitality students at Orkney College UHI’s Overblikk restaurant.

Pictured at the site of the planned new research and innovation campus in Stromness are (left to right): OIC Leader James Stockan, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski of RGU, Professor Clive Mulholland of UHI, Professor Richard Williams of HWU, and HIE Chief Executive Charlotte Wright.

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