College Life with Debra Forsythe-Conroy: You may be surprised at Harrogate College's range of courses

The nights are starting to draw in and it's getting colder and it is with immense pride that I look at the new college estate, on dark afternoons all lit up with students beavering away at their various studies.

Friday, 4th November 2016, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:23 pm
We aim to ensure we have a warm, welcoming and pleasant environment in which to study for all, including those students who attend classes in the evening.

We aim to ensure we have a warm, welcoming and pleasant environment in which to study for all, including those students who attend classes in the evening.

In September, the college opened its doors to new and returning students inviting them into their new learning environments. They quickly settled into their classes and on October 7 we officially opened the redeveloped estate. We were delighted that Barry Dodd CBE chairman of York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) officiated.

The £6 million development was generously co-funded between the LEP and Hull College Group (of which Harrogate College is part).

Over 100 local VIPs and dignitaries attended and took the opportunity to have detailed tours of the estate escorted by specialist curriculum leaders. It was also an opportunity to meet students who were in college that day.

Hospitality students who had been on their course for less than four weeks circulated among the guests offering tasty canapés and innovative alcohol-free drinks.

All the canapés had been prepared by the students under the watchful eyes of their experienced tutors.

The event was a huge success and guests departed with a goodie bag which included beautiful shortcake biscuits baked by the students and a range of promotional offers to tempt a return visit to our bistro, hairdressing or beauty therapy salons who offer a wide range of services.

The successful outcome of the opening event is now to be repeated with a business and employer network event on November 10.

This will follow the same format with tours and beautifully prepared and presented tasty treats but will have an additional feature. Attendees will hear the latest developments in apprenticeship frameworks, the new levy introduced next April and how this will impact on large businesses and on those classed as small to medium enterprises.

This is a fundamental change which will impact on what a framework comprises of through the new Trailblazer model and how it will be delivered and funded. If you would like more information on the event and wish to attend, please contact: [email protected] or your local training provider who will be able to provide more information.

It has also been suggested that we should open the college doors to the general public for interested parties to look around the facilities and gain a greater understanding of what the college can offer.

Many are surprised to hear that we are not just a further education college but also offer a successful range of higher education programmes up to masters level. The college is also an Associate College of the Open University. Earlier in the year we were awarded our own degree awarding powers up to level five. This means we now offer foundation degrees which can also be studied on a part time basis so students can study while working. This places us in only a handful of colleges nationally who can offer this. Much to celebrate for our town! These new proposals will see a further reduction in the number of hours students will be in college. It will be more akin to a day release or possibly a block release model depending upon the employer’s needs, with students being in the workplace for most of their studies.

As previous articles have cited there are a far broader range of apprenticeships than the traditional routes. The national campaign for increasing apprenticeships has seen swift development of apprenticeships such as higher level apprenticeships (HLAs) and degree apprenticeships.

The latter is becoming increasingly popular in a range of professions from nursing to law, an excellent pathway to obtaining a degree or higher level of study while learning on the job and without debt or taking three or four years out to study. Another factor to impact on study patterns is the increasing use of IT to support learning through blended and distance learning packages. This allows students to study on-line while at home, attending college or training providers on a bespoke timetable.

This shift in study patterns and attendance modalities for both further education including apprenticeships and higher education has found many traditional training providers and colleges with far too much space. Some years ago match funding was sought to support huge building projects with large brand new estates springing up. However utilisation in such is mainly low as the change in study patterns was not considered.

We are pleased to say that our consolidated estate has still left room for growth and has recognised this shift in study patterns.