Chamber Matters: College and the Community
Published 28 Mar 2014Dr. Gordon Jenkins, Chamber Board Member and Principal of North Highland College UHI, talks about the place of the college in the community and the importance of balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders
What many people don’t realise is that education is a business. While the product we have to offer – education – is often free at the point of delivery, the day-to-day efforts that go into delivering that product cost money. Like any business, North Highland College has to try to develop its product (education), to deliver the best value to its customers (students), while maintaining a healthy balance sheet.
And, like any business, running the college means maintaining a careful balance between the needs of different stakeholders. Our students are absolutely vital to the running of the college – without students, we don’t have a college, and we work closely with our student council to ensure that what we’re offering meets the needs of both individual students and the student body as a whole.
However, students aren’t the only stakeholders we have to consider. We work with qualifying bodies to ensure that our courses are delivered to national standards, and to provide our input on the development of those standards; with our staff, to ensure that their needs are met; and, crucially, with employers in the local area, to ensure that our students graduate with the skills required to succeed in the real world.
The important thing that we have to remember is that the college belongs to the community. If it isn’t constantly considering and adapting to the needs of everyone in that community, then it isn’t serving its purpose.
We’ve worked hard over the years to try to meet the needs of our community. We worked closely with local employers when building our pioneering Engineering, Technology and Energy Centre, and more recently have helped develop an innovative, employer-led apprenticeship program.
Through our affiliation with the University of the Highlands and Islands, we’ve also worked to meet the needs of our students and, I’m proud to say, offer them an unrivalled variety of educational opportunities. With courses covering the full range from Access 1 to PhDs, we have something to meet the needs of each individual student.
Finally, we have developed several niche programmes with a national reputation for excellence – Equestrian Studies, Gamekeeping and Golf Management – which not only help combat skills drain from the area but draw students from all over Scotland, bringing further benefit to the local economy.
If we are to continue to meet the needs of our community, we have to keep innovating, adapting and growing. The best way for us to do that is to draw on the expertise and support of the people around us and we’re always looking for new ideas, so get in touch.