Build­ing a first-class stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence in univer­sity town

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

As this is the first ar­ti­cle from the Oban: A Univer­sity Town (OaUT) team this year, it is a chance to re­flect on what the project achieved in 2018 since the suc­cess­ful launch event at the Cor­ran Halls.

2018 was the Year of Young Peo­ple, so launch­ing the OaUT pro­gramme in the same year pro­vided a plat­form from which to build a first-class stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence for Oban’s cur­rent and fu­ture alumni. There were more than 1,000 stu­dents study­ing in the Oban area in the 2017-18 aca­demic year, which has a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive im­pact on the lo­cal econ­omy.

High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise (HIE) re­cently pub­lished its sur­vey into the at­ti­tudes and as­pi­ra­tions that peo­ple aged 15 to 30 years have about the re­gion. The en­cour­ag­ing head­line mes­sage is that since 2015 there has been an in­crease in the num­ber of young peo­ple who want to live and work in the High­lands and Is­lands.

This is, of course, pos­i­tive news for de­vel­op­ing the univer­sity town, but there is still work to be done in rais­ing aware­ness of the many op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able for school-leavers want­ing to stay, as well as en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple into the area. The Young Peo­ple theme has been at the fore­front re­cently, with em­ployer/stu­dent en­gage­ment tak­ing cen­tre stage.

The Novem­ber Oban Times ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by the project’s stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Scot­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Marine Science (SAMS) UHI; a fo­cus group of Oban High School stu­dents pro­vided valu­able in­sights into their ex­pec­ta­tions of a ‘stu­dent town’ and at SAMS UHI Ca­reers Week, there was an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore grad­u­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Op­por­tu­nity

The high school event pro­vided a great op­por­tu­nity to spend time with young peo­ple and talk through their per­cep­tions around why they would or would not want to stay in Oban for fur­ther stud­ies.

They were a great group with a di­verse mix of as­pi­ra­tions from ap­pren­tice­ships through to foren­sic science de­grees.

Within the OaUT pro­gramme, an im­por­tant fo­cus is on mak­ing sure aca­demic de­vel­op­ment aligns well with skills needs - such as

the cur­rent em­pha­sis on the re­quire­ments of the marine in­dus­try - and rel­e­vant em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents and grad­u­ates who wish to stay and make their ca­reers here.

One op­tion which busi­nesses, so­cial en­ter­prises and as­pir­ing grad­u­ates could con­sider is grad­u­ate em­ploy­ment pro­grammes, such as the ScotGrad Pro­gramme, which has pro­vided many busi­nesses and so­cial en­ter­prises in the High­lands and Is­lands with ac­cess to tal­ented grad­u­ates, ful­fill­ing busi­ness needs and pro­vid­ing a vi­tal first step on the ca­reers lad­der for grad­u­ates.

The stu­dent sum­mer place­ment pro­gramme is an­other op­tion which pro­vides paid em­ploy­ment for un­der­grad­u­ates. More in­for­ma­tion on these op­tions can be found at www.scotgrad.co.uk.

Mor­ven Gib­son, gen­eral man­ager of South West Mull and Iona De­vel­op­ment (SWMID), said: ‘SWMID takes an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and em­ploy­ing a grad­u­ate with ScotGrad’s sup­port is prov­ing in­valu­able in mov­ing two of our po­ten­tially trans­for­ma­tional projects for­ward.

‘Grad­u­ates bring a fresh pair of eyes, com­ing up with new ideas and sug­gest­ing how things can be done dif­fer­ently or bet­ter. The ScotGrad pro­gramme helps to at­tract new tal­ent into or­gan­i­sa­tions and of­fers grad­u­ates an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to start their ca­reer in the re­gion.’

Grad­u­ates

The OaUT project team is grate­ful to The Oban Times for pro­vid­ing us with the op­por­tu­nity for these monthly up­dates and we look for­ward to keep­ing read­ers in­formed of progress in the com­ing year.

We would like to of­fer all our project part­ners and those of you in the wider com­mu­nity who have sup­ported us our best wishes for the ex­cit­ing 12 months ahead. #loveobanlove­learn­ing!

2017-18 saw more than 1,000 stu­dents study­ing in the Oban area.

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