Minister for higher education visits QMU

By Press Office

Minister for higher education impressed by QMU’s outdoor learning plans and college partnerships

Yesterday (16th August), the Scottish Government’s Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment & Training visited Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh to find out about the institution’s progressive work in the area of outdoor learning and in university/college degree partnerships.

Jamie Hepburn was shown around the campus by QMU’s Principal, Sir Paul Grice. During his tour, Mr Hepburn learned about the University’s focus on outdoor learning before planting an oak tree in its Wee Forest. He also heard about the University’s strong partnerships with Fife College, New College Lanarkshire and West College Scotland, which are providing college students with a new pathway to a degree while they continue to study at college.

QMU Principal, Sir Paul Grice, said: “We were delighted to welcome Jamie Hepburn to the University and to share news of the positive impact that our college/university partnerships are having on academic attainment across Fife, Lanarkshire and the west of Scotland. Through these partnerships, students on HND courses at our partner colleges can progress onto a degree from Queen Margaret University, without having to transfer from the college to the University campus. This allows students to study at a convenient location closer to home and save money. For some, they will be the first person in their family to gain a university degree. This important work is responding to local demand, addresses skills gaps, and is helping close the educational attainment gap by providing better equality of opportunity to higher education. Through these partnerships, we are harnessing the potential of more talented young people from different socio-economic backgrounds across Scotland.”

QMU has made significant progress in the area of partnerships with Fife College, offering through them a BA (Hons) Creative Enterprise and a BA (Hons) Childhood Practice. Through its established partnership with West College Scotland and New College Lanarkshire, the University is delivering Drama undergraduate degree courses. In addition, QMU has recently developed a new route with Edinburgh College and City of Glasgow College for a BSc (Hons) Sports Rehabilitation, offering progression from HND Sports Therapy to the first accredited Sports Rehabilitation degree in Scotland. This unique opportunity means from this September, Scottish students no longer have to relocate to England to qualify as a sports rehabilitation professional.

The minister was able to take advantage of a brief dry spell on an otherwise rainy day to tour the University’s “Wee Forest” which was planted earlier this year. The Wee Forest of 600 Scottish trees is the first step towards QMU’s bigger ambitions to create an Outdoor Learning Hub in the grounds of the University for students, staff, the local community, and the teaching profession across Scotland. In discussions with the minister, lecturer Patrick Boxall discussed QMU’s drive to ensure that outdoor learning is a key component in the University’s Initial Teacher Education courses for students who are qualifying in primary teaching and home economics. The minister was also walked through the plans for the Outdoor Learning Hub which is being created this year. The plans take account of the growing understanding of the value of learning in, and about, the natural environment, in light of the climate emergency, people’s experience of COVID, and research on wellbeing.

Sir Paul Grice explained: “We owe it to our emerging generations to equip them with the knowledge they need to understand, enjoy and protect the natural world. Through our outdoor learning work and the development of our Outdoor Learning Hub, we are ensuring teachers of the future are best equipped to teach learners of all ages within the natural environment, helping them appreciate nature’s vital role in lifelong learning, global sustainability, and health and wellbeing.”

Sir Paul confirmed: “We intend to make a significant contribution to learning for sustainability and be leaders in outdoor learning, and we are committed to the development of our campus as a local and national centre to connect people within nature.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment & Training, said: “It has been great to see the work that Queen Margaret University is doing to embed outdoor learning within its teacher education offering – this will make students, staff and the wider community aware of the benefits of engagement with the natural environment.

“I also welcome the diverse range of pathways provided by QMU to support college students in making the transition to degree level study.”

Photo credit: Malcolm Cochrane

Notes to Editor

For further information about Queen Margaret University’s initial teacher education courses visit:

For further details on QMU’s outdoor learning visit Outdoor Learning Hub and Wee Forest.

For details on QMU’s college partnerships the degree courses provided via Fife College and New College Lanarkshire etc. visit College Partnerships.

For further media information contact Gavin McNee, Media Relations and Content Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: