Students attending Moray College UHI are to benefit from a pioneering partnership between the University of the Highlands and Islands and Australia’s newest seat of higher learning, the Federation University Australia (FUA).
The two regionally based education institutions have a lot in common despite their being on opposite sides of the world.
UHI principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Clive Mulholland explained: “Neither of us are traditional universities – we are both different and are locally based, regional in structure but with national and international influence.
“We’re part of a new breed of tertiary institutions encompassing both further and higher education. As trailblazers in our geographical areas, it makes sense for us to establish links with other new generation universities to find opportunities for collaboration and mutual learning.”
FUA vice-chancellor, Professor David Battersby, agreed, saying: “Despite the distance between Victoria and northern Scotland, Federation University Australia and UHI share very similar missions.
“They serve regional communities scattered across large distances where, in the past, people have found it very difficult to access training and education. Both universities are committed to building the social and economic resilience of their communities by providing high quality education and training and have been very successful in doing so.”
Representatives from the two universities have already met through video conferencing technology and will be investigating ways they can encourage staff and student exchanges and teaching materials.
There are also plans to develop a range of courses for delivery on their 20 campuses across Victoria and the Highlands and Islands, as well as establishing joint research programs in common areas including history and rural health.
The Collaborative Centre for Research in Australian History at the Australian university will link up the UHI’s Centre for History.
Professor Andrew Smith at the FUA explained: “Many Highland Scots immigrated to Western Victoria in the 19th century and so there is a strong Scottish tradition in our region. This is another example of the cultural and historical ties that link our two universities.”
The UHI has a world-wide reputation for the innovative use of technology to reach its students and Federation University will be able to learn from that experience to enhance its programs in Victoria.
“Federation University Australia is increasingly moving to offer its programs by blended delivery,” added Professor Battersby.
“Improving the use of on-line and videoconferencing technology to increase access for regional students.”