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A Highland education

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Bruce Munro Bruce Munro | 16:45 UK time, Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Inverness became Scotland's fifth city in 2000 and while it's got a lot of the trappings you'd expect from a city, it's not home to a university.

But all that might change soon.

The University of the Highlands and Islands - a partnership of colleges and other institutions across the region - has submitted a bid for full university status.

A Scotsman reader suggested that the institution has a wider role to play in Highland life than just the education of the population, arguing that the UHI needs to exist in order to stop "young people from heading to Glasgow as fast as their legs can carry them".

It's nearly ten years since I left the Highlands to go to university in Glasgow. I don't think it's fair to say I left as fast as my legs would carry me - when I left school, if you wanted to go on to higher education the only option was to move away.

So my experience of higher education is completely tied to leaving my family and the independence that came with it.

But if the current economic climate will make it necessary for more young people to stay at home while they study then the UHI being granted full university status could help Highlanders to have educational equality with their lowland cousins.

But I've also been thinking about my time in school because of programmes like The Big School Lottery.

I found this pretty eye-opening stuff. When I was growing up I don't think my parents thought a great deal about my education. That's not because they weren't concerned for me, more that I don't think they really had a lot to think about.

There were no worries about catchment areas. There was no handwringing about the virtues of state versus private schools because there were no private schools. There was just one number in our postcode lottery because there was only one school nearby.

So it does make me wonder if choice is worth all that stress. Is it just simpler if some decisions aren't there to be made?

But if I continue to live here in Glasgow and have a family, then these are issues I'm not going to be able to ignore.

Actually, come to think of it, maybe it would be simpler if I moved back home...

There's a range of new programmes coming up in the BBC2 School Season. Highlights include Gareth Malone (star of The Choir) trying to engage with boys who don't enjoy school and Excluded, a semi-improvised drama about a new teacher trying to help one of his troubled students.


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