ERI Award For Excellence
17 December 2001

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Environmental Research Institute, Thurso - Gains Award For Excellence

Research undertaken at by the Environmental Research Institute of North Highland College, Thurso, has been awarded one of the top grades for excellence in a report covering universities and other higher education institutions throughout the UK.

The grade of ‘4’ has been awarded in the research assessment exercise (RAE), conducted by the higher education funding bodies for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The award was made for research in the area of the environmental sciences. The assessment is undertaken every five years and determines the level of funding provided for future research.

A grade of ‘4’ is described as “Quality that equates to attainable levels of national excellence in virtually all the research activity submitted, showing some evidence of international excellence”. Research is assessed on a scale of one to five, with the highest grade available being 5*.

Along with the Environmental Science Institute of North Highland College, the award recognises research undertaken at the Scottish Association for Marine Science at Dunstaffnage, Argyll, and the Centre for Mountain Studies at Perth College. All are partners in the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute network. The grade achieved is the highest awarded in this field to any institution in Scotland.

Dr. Stuart Gibb, manager of the Environmental Research Institute, says “Issues relating to the utilisation, sustainability, conservation and management of natural resources are central to the environmental and socio-economic viability of the Highlands and Islands. The outcome of the RAE shows that UHI is achieving the highest standards in addressing these key research issues. The result is a real landmark for UHI and wonderful news for the Environmental Research Institute, here in Thurso, along with the other UHI partners involved in the submission.”

Comments Professor Bob Cormack, UHI director & chief executive, “This really is an amazing achievement. Following designation as an Institution of Higher Education in April of this year, we only had a few weeks to prepare our submission for the RAE. Congratulations are due to all those involved. Very few institutions achieve such an excellent score on their first submission.” Prof Cormack continues, “This result recognises the very high standard of research already being undertaken within the UHI network and provides us with an excellent platform on which to develop our research activities in other areas of particular value to the Highlands & Islands.”

UHI research co-ordinator, Dr Neil Chisholm, who co-ordinated the submission, adds “This is an excellent example of team work by the UHI academic partners concerned, achieving greater success collectively than any one of them could have done individually.”

Dr Neil Chisholm Emphasising ERI's commitment to a cleaner environment

Director of developing skills at Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Alex Paterson, says “Only designated higher education institutions are eligible for inclusion in the research assessment exercise and for the funding which flows from it. This excellent result again demonstrates the value of UHI Millennium Institute to the Highlands & Islands and the further economic benefits that will be derived once UHI becomes a fully established university.”

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