Somehow, already, it’s August. Which means we’re just a couple of weeks away from welcoming thousands of new and returning faces to Ayrshire College for another year.
2017/18 is shaping up to be a tremendous year for the College. We are running new, exciting courses. Renovations are taking place at our Ayr and Kilwinning campuses – including a brand new training restaurant in the Dam Park building. And we’ve got some new events in the pipeline for students.
We’re all very excited for the year ahead.
But that’s not to downplay 2016/17. Some tremendous things happened at Ayrshire College last year, so here’s a quick recap to whet your appetite for the year ahead.
Kilmarnock Campus officially opens!
We couldn’t reflect on 2016/17 without first mentioning our new £53m Kilmarnock Campus.
We officially moved into our new Kilmarnock home at Hill Street on 24 October 2016. A few weeks later we held a Community Open Day, allowing members of the public an opportunity to walk around the new facilities.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP was then the guest of honour at a special ceremony for our official opening on 12 December 2016.
The campus has been tremendously received by all students and staff at the College.
Irvine chefs cook up a storm to win UK-wide competition
One of the best things about being an Ayrshire College student is being able to test your skills at national competitions.
Iona Duncan, Agnieszka Dudko and Katarzyna Hospodarewska, from the Irvine Campus, showcased their culinary skills at the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge, and won!
Their three course, fine dining menu scooped the coveted top award and gold medal. This means they will now go on to cater for over 1,000 guests at the Craft Guild’s Annual Awards 2017 in London.
Ayrshire College crowned UK’s top engineering training partner
We were named Training Partner of the Year at the Semta Skills Awards in London earlier this year.
To say we were delighted with this would be an understatement. We were the only Scottish college or university represented at the ceremony, which was hosted by BBC presenter Alexander Armstrong.
Picking up the prize reinforces that our STEM teams are producing excellent work for Scotland’s aerospace industry, working with employers on a wide-range of initiatives, supporting apprenticeships, job creation, upskilling and promoting diversity in engineering.
The return of Mission Discovery Ayrshire
The International Space School Educational Trust’s Mission Discovery programme is quickly becoming the highlight of the year for STEM students at Ayrshire College, as the programme landed in Ayrshire for the second successive year.
Secondary school pupils and college students worked in teams to create a viable space experiment that will be launched to the International Space Station and tested by astronauts sometime in 2018.
The participants got the chance to work with a former NASA astronaut, Michael Foale CBE, and NASA HQs Council Executive / Mission Support and Partnership Councils, Sarah Murray, across the week.
There were also events put on during Mission Discovery Week for members of the public, where they could meet and greet Michael and hear Sarah’s inspirational story of breaking down barriers as she reached for the stars at NASA.
North Ayrshire single parents get Skills for Life
Our latest Skills for Life training programme, in partnership with North Ayrshire Council and the Department of Work and Pensions, saw us recruit a number of single parents for the opportunity.
The Skills For Life programme supports unemployed people into work by providing them with the confidence and necessary skills required for the workplace.
The students had six weeks of intensive training at the College before they moved into paid placements within North Ayrshire Council.
They worked in the Council’s facilities management, catering, administration and care teams, and many have gone on to secure full-time positions!
Open University partnership flourishes
We continued our partnership programme with the Open University for a fourth year running, and suffice to say it was a major success yet again.
We deliver a BA (Hons) Combined Social Science degree at our Kilmarnock Campus in partnership with the OU.
Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP made a special trip to our Kilmarnock Campus earlier this year to learn more about the partnership, and was impressed by what she heard.
And we have recently found out that all students on this year’s course graduated with 2:1 degrees. Well done!
Students design new tartan
Three of our students weaved their way to success in a design competition organised by home builders WestPoint Homes.
The fashion students were given a brief to design a tartan throw, in-keeping with the company’s design aesthetic and corporate colours.
Ellis Bird was named the winner, picking up a £250 retail voucher as her reward. Runners-up Nicole Christie and Emma Hyslop were presented with certificates.
Major engineering employers give Foundation Apprentices the grand tour
Our Foundation Apprentices in engineering were given a tremendous insight into the industry thanks to a number of special site visits.
The group was welcomed to Prestwick’s Spirit AeroSystems and Kilmarnock’s MAHLE group at the start of their course.
Towards the end of the programme, they were invited into GSK in Irvine, William Engineering in Kilwinning, and Wabtec Faiveley UK Rail Scotland in Kilmarnock.
The Foundation Apprenticeship class is a mix of pupils from three Ayrshire schools; St Matthews Academy, Greenwood Academy and Prestwick Academy. The pupils are all aiming to pursue a career in the engineering sector and kickstarted their careers by studying a Foundation Apprenticeship two afternoons per week.
College record label launched!
Two of our lecturers developed the great idea to launch Sun Turtle Records, to give Ayrshire musicians an opportunity to record and release original music.
The record label was launched as part of the practical entrepreneurship unit of our Sound Production course, with a PR and Events company – High Tide PR – also launched.
NC Sound Production student Shanna Hodge had the honour of releasing the first single through Sun Turtle Records. Shanna’s song ‘Survivors’ was well received and even got an airing on BBC Radio Scotland.
This project will continue for students coming to the College for 2017/18.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor appointed
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the news of Paul Hough’s appointment as Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor.
Figures obtained by NUS Scotland for Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 revealed there had been an increase in the number of students accessing mental health services in Scotland’s colleges and universities.
Improving the health and life chances of students and staff is a key priority for the College and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor having a visible presence on all campuses supports our objective.
Paul provides mental health support across every campus, and improves the knowledge of mental health issues in our staff and students.
We hope you enjoyed that trip into the recent past, and look forward to welcoming you to our campuses for 2017/18 soon!