Pictured signing the partnership agreement are FVC Principal Linda McKay and University Principal Gerry McCormac, joined by Cathy Snedden and Professor Neil Blain
New Honours students Maggie Laidlaw and Collette O'Sullivan
The University of Stirling and Forth Valley College (FVC) are celebrating their new partnership agreement whereby Stirling will now validate FVC’s BA Media and Communication and BA Art and Design degrees.
The University will also validate an Honours year for the courses which will advance the learning programmes.
The collaboration signals the beginning of joint working between the University and FVC as the college moves more of its activities to the city’s new campus, which will be the base for Creative Industries when it opens in 2012.
The partnership was initiated by Professor Neil Blain of Stirling’s School of Arts and Humanities and Head of Creative Industries at FVC, Cathy Snedden.
Professor Blain said: “At this stage in the development of Scottish higher and further education institutions, it is appropriate to strengthen links and we hope to find other ways to benefit from the partnership.
“We welcome the students to the University and hope they enjoy their time here.”
Cathy Snedden added: “This is a significant step for the degrees. The desire and benefit of working with a partner on your doorstep is going to be great. We look forward to a positive future together.”
Lecturers from the institutions have already been working together to develop new course material for the Honours programmes. The collaboration will boost recruitment for degree programmes at both institutions and improve the flexibility of course provision.
Two students who have just embarked on the Honours course at Stirling are Maggie Laidlaw and Collette O’Sullivan. Maggie (47), from Denny, praised the University staff for supporting them through their transition from the College as they “find their feet”. She said: “It is very exciting being the first students on the Honours course. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity to study at university. The staff have been very helpful and accessible.”
The single mum-of-three says juggling motherhood with full time studies has been challenging but very worthwhile. She added: “Going into further education as an adult learner has been hard work but is the best thing I have ever done. It really has changed my life.”
Collette O’Sullivan worked as nurse for 20 years before embarking on her art qualification. The 49-year-old said: “It is exciting to be part of the University and the staff have made the transition easy for us. It was a bit of a culture shock at first moving from practical to theory based learning but the support we have received has been excellent.”
The single mum from Alloa hopes to work in adult community-based art therapy when she graduates. Collette added: “When I decided to start the degree, the journey I embarked on was effectively personal art therapy. Now I feel I want to help other people have the same experience.”
Stirling Principal Gerry McCormac says the partnership has given the University an opportunity to produce programme material for an Art and Design degree, which builds on a growing interest in working in these creative areas within the University.
He added: “It is exciting to have the opportunity to come together and acknowledge the work that is going on behind the scenes – full credit to Cathy and Neil, and all the staff who have made this possible. I congratulate the staff for bringing the two institutions closer together so that we can develop this collaboration further to benefit students, staff and the wider community.
“I congratulate the new students. I hope their experience leads the way and that they find their studies here engaging.
“Over time, we hope to investigate and develop other ways in which students can benefit further from the combined resources of both institutions.”
FVC Principal Linda McKay added: “I am absolutely delighted that FVC has formed a partnership with the University of Stirling. This brings to fruition the commitment of both institutions to enhance and widen local opportunities available to students across Forth Valley and beyond.
“By building a partnership with the University of Stirling, it will widen access to degree programmes and offer a greater learner experience for our students. We have a shared vision and this will ensure our students gain a highly sought after qualification from a leading University.
“I am confident that being in greater proximity will open up an even wider range of opportunities to collaborate with the University for the benefit of students. I am ambitious about what this will bring in the future.”