The University of the Highlands and Islands (Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilanin Gaelic) had its university status officially confirmed by the Privy Council in February 2011, making it Scotland's newest university and the only university based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It was previously known as the The UHI Millennium Institute and is a partnership of 13 colleges and research institutions from across the Highlands and Islands and beyond.
The UHI has some 8,000 students on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as many undertaking research and some 33,000 further education students. It is divided into two academic faculties: Arts, Humanities and Business; and Science, Health and Education. A more practical consideration is that its courses are on offer at 13 locations from Shetland in the north to Argyll and Perthshire in the south. Some courses are offered at multiple sites, others are more localised and may be offered in only one place. Some of the more distinctive courses available at the UHI include aeronautical engineering; nuclear decommissioning; the culture of the Highlands and Islands; Gaelic music; Gaelic language and/or culture; marine science; sustainable forestry; and golf management. Also on offer are many of the more mainstream subjects you would find anywhere else.
The partners in the UHI are: the NAFC Marine Centre, Scalloway; Shetland College, Lerwick; Orkney College, Kirkwall; North Highland College, Thurso; Lews Castle College, Stornoway; Inverness College, Inverness; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye; Moray College, Elgin; Highland Theological College, Dingwall; Perth College, Perth; Argyll College, Dunoon; Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban; and West Highland College, Fort William. It can be seen from this list that the UHI extends on the mainland beyond the boundaries of the Highland Council area to include partners in Moray, Perthshire and Argyll.
By some accounts, it is possible to trace the history of the UHI back to a failed attempt to launch a university in Perth in 1425 or another in Shetland in 1581. A more realistic starting point for the story lays in a feasability report published in June 1992. The UHI came into being over the following two years, then slowly grew through the remainder of the 1990s. In April 2001 the Scottish Parliament awarded the UHI Millennium Institute Higher Education Institute status, allowing it to provide university level courses. UHI degrees were initially awarded and validated by the Open University Validation Service, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Aberdeen. In February 2011 the Privy Council confirmed the university status of the UHI, and it became the University of the Highlands and Islands.