UHI, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands, has become the first higher education institution to publish its Gaelic language plan. New Gaelic learning opportunities for UHI staff, students and the wider public, are among the strategic objectives in the four-year action plan now on the UHI website.
Whether it is providing a qualification in a range of Gaelic studies, helping to train Gaelic-medium teachers, or communicating with students, staff and the public in both Gaelic and English, including bi-lingual greetings from the executive office reception desk, UHI is proud of its commitment to the language and culture.
The plan sets out UHI’s aims to become a centre of excellence for the development and enhancement of Gaelic language, culture and heritage. It contains a Gaelic curriculum development section, reflecting the central role for UHI in supporting the aims of the national development agency, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, particularly in relation to education.
UHI already offers unique Gaelic language and Gaelic-medium learning opportunities through courses at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI on Skye and Lews Castle College UHI on Lewis, including the BA Gaelic language and culture, BA Gaelic and development, BA in Gaelic and traditional music, and a diploma in Gaelic media.
A postgraduate diploma for Gaelic-medium primary and secondary teachers is available through a partnership with the University of Strathclyde, while UHI teams up with the University of Aberdeen to provide an MA or MA honours Gaelic with education degree.
Future provision is due to include online delivery of 26 Gaelic degree modules, and new modules in genealogy, theology, language legislation, and history.
The UHI plan also covers bi-lingual communications, including the website and publications, signage and corporate identity.
UHI principal James Fraser said: “As the prospective University for the Highlands and Islands, we are determined to increase the visibility and audibility of Gaelic in our services to students, staff and the general public. The promotion of Gaelic language and culture is a core area of the curriculum we offer to students throughout the region, and our research activities will further support the development of Gaelic as a national and community language.
“We are passionately committed to the enhancement of the status of Gaelic and to promote its use through the learning opportunities we provide. We hope that our plan will assist the achievement of the aspirations and objectives set out in the National Plan for Gaelic, and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.”
UHI’s plan was prepared in accordance with statutory criteria set out in the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, and involved public consultation. It was approved by the national Gaelic development agency, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, in August this year.
Professor Matthew MacIver, the Lewis-born chair of the UHI board of governors, said: “This is a particularly proud day for me and for all of us who have seen a university of the Highlands and Islands as one of the natural leaders in the development of the Gaelic language. At the geographical heart of this aspiring university is a language and a culture that makes it different from any other further or higher education institution in Scotland.
“In addition, new courses will be prepared which will be delivered by academic partners who have not previously been involved with these kind of courses.”
Research into Gaelic is also a key role for UHI. It is leading on a major research project named Soillse (Gaelic for enlightenment) which will inform public policies on the support of Gaelic, and boost national and local efforts to reverse the decline of the language, and encourage the use of Gaelic in areas where it is not traditionally spoken.
The plan can be viewed at www.uhi.ac.uk/gaeliclanguageplan
UHI media officer
Notes to editors
UHI Millennium Institute (UHI) is a higher education institution comprising thirteen partner colleges and research institutions, and a network of over fifty outreach learning centres, located throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (including Moray and Perthshire).
There are currently 8156 students studying on undergraduate and postgraduate courses or undertaking postgraduate research with UHI.
The UHI partner institutions are working together to achieve university status, as the University of the Highlands and Islands. UHI was awarded taught degree awarding powers in 2008.