Skye's Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig celebrates 50th anniversary after record-breaking year

The only college of its kind in the world welcomed its highest number of students

The 50th anniversary of Scotland’s national centre for Gaelic language and culture will be celebrated today.

Founded in September 1973 in old farm steadings in the Isle of Skye, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is the only centre of higher and further education in the world that provides its learning programmes entirely through the medium of Gaelic.

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In 2022/23, the college welcomed its highest number of students, with 1,600 learning both on campus and online, on full-time, part-time and short courses.

SMO Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye, April 2023SMO Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye, April 2023
SMO Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye, April 2023

It now attracts students from across Scotland and more than 25 other countries across the world, each year.

As part of the celebrations, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig launches its new Strategic Plan 2023/28, which aligns with the vision of the fourth National Gaelic Language Plan, and aims to significantly increase the number of people speaking, learning and valuing Gaelic.

Chairman Aonghas S. MacLeòid said: "Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s 50th anniversary is a testament to our enduring commitment to Gaelic language and culture. We have evolved to meet the changing needs of our community and students and this is reflected in our success.

"This milestone is a tribute to the dedication of our staff, students, and the unwavering support of the Gaelic community. We look forward to the next 50 years as a leader in Gaelic learning, research and cultural opportunities: working with our partners to achieve Scotland’s wider ambitions for Gaelic as a living language and a thriving culture.”

The new strategy sets out ways to ensure the college continues to deliver education in an immersive Gaelic environment, both on campus and via distance learning. The plan also covers researching and contributing to scholarship and knowledge exchange in, and about, Gaelic, as well as working in the Gaelic arts, and being sustainable and self-governing through the medium of Gaelic.

The 50th-anniversary celebrations will also feature the launch of a new book about one of the original trustees, Sorley MacLean, followed by a sold-out gig in the original campus building, An Talla Mòr, featuring Gaelic bands Valtos and El Sartel.A special Celtic Connections concert called “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig @ 50”, from January, will air on BBC ALBA on Saturday.



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