THE issues around young people in the Highlands and Islands have been known for many years. Our university was specifically created to tackle some of these issues.

The report published by HIE, demonstrates that the university, in particular, is making significant inroads into supporting young people, the communities and the economy of our region.

The challenges that the Highlands and Islands face require innovative solutions. The university is one such solution.

We are a unique organisation delivering high quality further and higher education to remote and rural communities where previously it was impossible to do.

As the principal, I would argue that the evidence shows the tremendous positive impact the university has had for young people. I would further argue that the university is the greatest educational success story in Scotland in 100 years. By working with colleges, agencies and business, we have developed an offering that is now not only attractive to local students, but also we are now starting to see young people from further afield wanting to come and study in the Highlands and Islands.

In the past five years, the university has increased our student numbers by over 20 per cent. Our course offering at higher education level has also risen by 14 per cent, with well over 200 different options available to students.

However, universities are not just about numbers. As a regional university, we contribute to the social and economic wellbeing of the region. We also act as an ambassador on the world stage for the Highlands and Islands.

All of the above demonstrates the positive impact a university can have on a region. We have achieved a lot in the last five years alone as our reputation has grown both nationally and internationally.

My plea to the politicians and our communities is to continue to support us in the future as we grow and evolve.