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Ambitious plans to build on Oban’s growing credentials as a university town are set to be launched early next year.
Oban is already home to more than 800 students from around the world who are studying at three leading further and higher education institutions – the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Ballet West and Argyll College UHI.
The project, in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS UHI), Argyll College UHI and Ballet West, as well as Oban High School, BID4Oban, Argyll and Bute Council, Skills Development Scotland, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will focus on the area’s distinctive assets and job opportunities to provide an outstanding experience in terms of teaching, practical work, enterprise, leisure and cultural activities, and community engagement.
The project also aims to contribute to the economic and population growth of the area, enhancing creativity and innovation, and encouraging local businesses.
Professor Donald MacLean, chairman of Oban University Town steering group, said: ‘It is fantastic to be involved in such an exciting project at this early stage. As a local resident myself, a key priority is to work closely with local people, businesses, community groups and other organisations. It is an ambitious project, but I feel confident that we have strong foundations in place and look forward to all that is ahead in the coming years.’
Dr Anuschka Miller, head of communications at SAMS, added: ‘This region has suffered a brain drain where many of our bright young people left the area to gain education elsewhere. Through the UHI and other education providers, local youngsters now have a real choice: many may still want to spread their wings and leave but they can now stay here and gain as good an education in a growing number of disciplines.
‘They are joined by students who chose to come here for their education and bring in new ideas and interests from all over the world. This makes the town younger, more dynamic and ensures we remain busier outside the tourist season.’
Peter Bain, head teacher of Oban High School, said: ‘Oban High School appreciates being invited onto the Oban as a university town project. Our involvement allows us to contribute to developing a fantastic educational experience for future generations of our youngsters.
‘Throughout the early development of the project we have sought the views of our school community and examined our recent higher education statistics to help inform the project. This is an exciting journey to be part of and I am certain the destination will be one of great benefit to our community.’
The project will be officially launched in February, with an all-day open event in the Corran Halls. This will be an opportunity for anyone who would like to find out more, contribute ideas and actively engage to help Oban achieve its full potential as a university town.