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Studying in Orkney

Orkney might not have the bright city lights and all-night attractions of other locations across the UK, but that doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on the best of student life if you choose to study here.

Our various campuses are friendly, welcoming places, full of experienced staff and other students all attuned to island life. The wider community will welcome you with open arms too.

This is a vibrant place to study, with fantastic facilities available for both learning and leisure. Whether you want to spend your weekends surfing, at the cinema or shopping, you won’t have any trouble finding something to do with your free time.

Student accommodation in Orkney

Before filling your calendar though, you’ll probably be on the lookout for accommodation. It can sometimes be tricky to find a place to stay, with a busy tourism industry and a growing population in Orkney. There is no on-site student accommodation available, but there are other options.

Our property pages allow you to search for places to buy and rent, as advertised by three local estate agents. There are also plenty of links to places you can find available properties. Orkney College UHI has a handy page full of contact information, and staff at Heriot-Watt University’s ICIT campus can also help. It’s important to start your search as soon as you know you’re heading to Orkney to study, as many properties can get snapped up quickly.

Both universities offer all the support services for students you’d expect, including learning support and advice on careers, finance and much more. You won’t feel out of the loop either, with busy student associations and plenty of opportunities to connect with mainland campuses.

Orkney's education community

Perhaps the main strength of studying in Orkney is the link between our further education establishments and the local community. Orkney College UHI has played a major role in the development of generations of Orcadians, and Heriot-Watt’s ICIT has been a part of Stromness for more than 30 years. These ongoing connections with our towns, businesses and families ensures that both universities are held in high regard locally. Students bring added vibrancy to the community, particularly in Stromness where ICIT postgraduates make a real impact on life in the town.

Student life in Orkney

The islands are a very active place to live and study. With fantastic sports and leisure facilities you won’t be short of things to do. If you’re a sportsperson then there are football, rugby, hockey, netball and many more clubs that would be delighted to welcome you. You never know, you might end up representing Orkney on the national stage!

The Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall has a wide range of other activities, including gym and fitness classes, climbing, squash and much more. Stromness has newly-refurbished squash courts, a swimming pool and a fitness suite. There are always plenty of exhibitions and concerts across Orkney too. Film fans can see the latest releases at the New Phoenix Cinema in Kirkwall, or enjoy the eclectic programme at the unique West Side Cinema in Stromness Town Hall, complete with candlelit tables and a ‘bring your own bottle’ policy.

Of course, if you want to escape the books and head outdoors then Orkney is the perfect place to be, with some beautiful beaches, a rugged coastline and wonderful wildlife highlights. There’s so much history to explore, and you can even spend your weekends island hopping.

Studying in Orkney is an opportunity to gain a respected qualification from some excellent organisations. But it’s also much more than that. It gives students the chance to sample life in one of the most unique places in the country.