Media release: University of the Highlands and Islands welcomes first cohort of midwifery students


THE University of the Highlands and Islands has welcomed its first cohort of students onto an innovative new midwifery course. Nineteen students gathered at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness on Monday 7 January to begin the shortened midwifery programme.

The postgraduate diploma has been developed in partnership with NHS Highland, NHS Western Isles and NHS Orkney. It will enable registered nurses to become fully qualified midwives in 20 months, helping to meet the needs of communities across the north of Scotland.

The course will have an emphasis on providing care in a remote and rural context. Students will learn through a combination of face-to-face classes at the Centre for Health Science, online study via the university’s virtual learning environment and placements with NHS Highland, NHS Western Isles, NHS Orkney and NHS Grampian in urban, remote and rural island-practice areas.

The Scottish Government is providing funding to cover the students’ tuition fees, offering bursaries and, together with NHS boards, funding the salary costs of existing employees undertaking the course.

Professor Crichton Lang, University of the Highlands and Islands’ deputy principal and head of its School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted that all of the development work to establish this programme has now come to fruition in this first cohort of trainee midwives beginning their studies. We wish them every success and are pleased to welcome them to our growing body of health, allied health and social care students.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, said: “Our midwives are critical to the success of our NHS and I am delighted that the University of the Highlands and Islands is welcoming its first intake of students onto its new, innovative midwifery programme.

“We are determined to ensure we recruit and retain the next generation of NHS staff to meet the needs of the country and courses like this, which support registered nurses to retrain as midwives, are a vital part of this. It is also crucial that we support these individuals during their education, which is why we are increasing support for student nurses and midwives, with our bursary rising to £8,100 in 2019/20 and to £10,000 by 2020/21.”

Mary Burnside, head of midwifery (interim) for NHS Highland, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first cohort of students on the shortened midwifery programme. This will see an increase in the number of student midwives training in Highland and ultimately an increase in midwives taking up posts in the area.

“Collaborative working with the University of the Highlands and Islands and Scottish Government colleagues has facilitated a tailored approach to addressing the challenge of midwifery vacancies and an ageing / retirement profile within the NHS Highland workforce. This is an exciting venture for midwifery education and practice in NHS Highland and we would like to wish the University of the Highlands and Islands and the new students every success with the programme.”

Gordon Jamieson, chief executive of NHS Western Isles, commented: “This is a very welcome development in the development of our future services and an excellent opportunity for practitioners.”

David McArthur, director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions at NHS Orkney, added: “It is fantastic to see the first group of students commence their studies. We are incredibly supportive of this initiative which enables our future midwives to train much closer to home. We look forward to welcoming them for their placements in due course.”

To find out more about the University of the Highlands and Islands’ health and wellbeing courses, visit


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