UHI Perth ’student success’ praised in inspection visit

Education Scotland inspectors have commended UHI Perth for the high level of success students achieve in completing their programmes.

see full size image
Dr Margaret Cook

The college has seen this ‘course completion’ measure consistently above the Scottish sector over the last five years.

The Education Scotland Annual Engagement Visit, published on 23rd April, included recognition for ‘The Big Project’, which involves UHI Perth staff and Your Students’ Association working closely with local businesses to donate and provide cost-of-living support by distributing food and toiletries to all learners who require it.

The report also highlights the strong links the college has with schools across the region. It states: “school learners are well supported across all subjects and receive excellent support in their transition into college programmes.”

Other key success measures include withdrawal rates from full-time Further Education (FE) courses being significantly lower that the Scottish sector alongside innovative teaching excellence.  The college was praised from the mental health support staff provide and the way regular drop-in sessions for learners with additional support needs or specific barriers to learning are facilitated. It noted: “The college is constantly looking at ways to ensure learners build their confidence in engaging with staff and peers and remain on their programme and learners feel that they are well supported by their Personal Academic Tutors who provide one-to-one engagement and support.”

The Annual Engagement Visits are planned on a yearly basis and during the visit in February, HM Inspectors met with staff, learners and a broad range of external stakeholders.

UHI Perth Principal Dr Margaret Cook said: “We are delighted with the positive outcomes reflected in the Annual Engagement Visit report. This highlights the dedication of our staff to ensuring our students are not only successful but receive an excellent supportive experience during their studies with us. It is also very reassuring to know that we are ahead of the sector for FE achievement for the last five years, and during a time that has been particularly difficult for the sector and its learners.”

Other areas of positive practice at UHI Perth identified in the report show that learners speak highly of the academic and pastoral support they receive from Personal Academic Tutors (PATs).  During programmes, PATs schedule individual meetings with learners to provide guidance upon work placements and employment and progression opportunities. Their positive engagement with learners is fostering supportive staff-learner relationships.

The report also emphasised the college's commitment to assisting students from their first contact at the start of their application process. This support facilitates their seamless transition from applying to beginning their studies and ensures that students stay involved and updated during the period leading up to enrolment.

It recognised: “Learners are provided with the opportunity to train to become a mental health ambassador. Student Services deliver training that includes input from charitable bodies to provide insight into the range of specialist external support agencies. Some learners highly value this training as it complements their vocational qualifications and their general level of resilience.”

In addition to the recent inspection, the college early student satisfaction rate for 2023 was 97% with an increase in 2024 for FE student by 1% (98%) and HN students remaining consistent at 97%.  

92% of students felt that it was easy to enrol on to their course, whilst 94% found induction helpful. In addition, 99% of students felt they were treated equally and fairly by staff and 94% were happy with the way the course was taught.

Student comments include:
“Good support from lecturers and peers. I like how practical the course is, it is also a good balance between practical and theory.” HNC Beauty Therapy (HN) 

“I am starting to feel more confident about myself. I like the way that the course has been laid out.” Return to Learn, Next Steps 2 Learning (FE)

“Having been out of education for such a long time, I’m enjoying the learning, everyone treated as an individual. I like that the course is a good balance of challenging and interesting.” NQ Access to Health and Life Sciences (SWAP) (FE)

“I love how welcoming and wholesome the atmosphere of the staff and students is. It has been a massive confidence boost. I like UHI Perth as a whole too, the environment, the staff, the classrooms, everything essentially!” BAH Popular Music (Degree)

“I like the freedom you get, and the independence skills you get to build during this course, I find all the stuff so far to be really fun and interesting and I'm passionate about engineering. It’s a good mix of practical creativity and useful skill development.” Foundation Apprenticeship Engineering (FE)

“Fantastic, brilliant staff, like that classes are recorded, and reasonable allowances are made. I like the course as a whole. The staff are very helpful in terms of feedback given and support provided overall.” HND Administration and IT (HN)

UHI Perth is one of the largest colleges in the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and provide further education courses from introductory level to degree and post graduate studies.

Education Scotland Report 2024