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University of the Highlands and Islands appoints new principal and vice-chancellor

By Alasdair Fraser

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Vicki Nairn, interim vice-principal and vice chancellor, UHI. Photographed here at An Lochran, Inverness, July 2023
Vicki Nairn, interim vice-principal and vice chancellor, UHI. Photographed here at An Lochran, Inverness, July 2023

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has appointed a new principal and vice-chancellor.

Vicki Nairn, who has been serving as UHI's interim in the post since October 2022, initially joined the institution as vice-principal operations in November 2021.

With nearly two decades of experience in executive leadership across the private and public sectors in the north of Scotland, Vicki previously held the role at Robert Gordon University as vice-principal corporate operations.

She has also advised the Scottish Government on remote and rural issues and has served on various national higher education and public sector boards.

A Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, the new principal and vice-chancellor specialising in strategic partnerships.

UHI said the appointment marked an exciting new chapter for the university, as it “works together to think, plan, and act as one in delivering outstanding teaching, research, and knowledge exchange”.

It marked a partnership-wide commitment to “a more integrated future, which will enable UHI to deliver on its mission and vision (and) comes following the creation of the new 2030 strategy, which sets forth ambitious goals for the institution”.

The new principal and vice-chancellor said: “I am honoured to have been chosen to lead UHI on the next stage of its evolution and transformation.

“Our 2030 strategy sets out UHI’s clear intention and ambition, building on our significant success to date.

“A fundamental part of our mission is to drive excellent co-created education and research across the regions we serve, enhanced by our unique landscape, heritage, and cultures.

“Together with ensuring engagement with business and industry are second to none.”

“Having lived and worked in the Highlands for nearly 20 years, I am looking forward to driving outstanding outcomes for our students, staff and the communities we serve.”

Alastair MacColl, chairman of UHI Court, said: “Vicki has been appointed from a formidably strong field of candidates and will be a fabulous leader for UHI.

“Vicki is supported by an experienced group of academic partner principals, who are thinking, planning and acting with a shared sense of purpose and a clear ambition to provide the economic destiny our students deserve and to generate the workforce, leadership and enterprise that enable our communities to flourish.

“The role that UHI plays in every part of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire have never been more fundamental or crucial.”

Vicki lives on the Black Isle with her family.

She will take up her role with immediate effect and will be the university’s fourth principal and vice-chancellor.

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