Partnership primed to capitalise on Scotland’s cultural expertise

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(L-R) Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, and Dr Ken Thomson, Principal of Forth Valley College at the signing at Stirling Castle.

Scotland’s £2.4billion heritage sector is set to benefit from an ambitious new educational partnership which will promote and develop expertise in managing Scotland’s heritage assets, as well as providing new training opportunities from apprenticeships to postgraduate level qualifications.

Launched at Stirling Castle, Historic Environment Scotland, the University of Stirling and Forth Valley College have today – Thursday 19 January – announced the innovative partnership model for collaboration; the first of its kind with a cultural heritage focus at an international level.

Providing a framework to develop, accredit and award qualifications for education and vocational training programmes, the partnership will look to the international market as an opportunity for Scotland’s heritage sector to lead the industry and foster new economic activity. As well as helping to drive collaborative research projects, it’s hoped the partnership could realise direct benefits for the sector, such as innovative new solutions and practices for addressing challenges, including those brought by a changing environment and climate.

A series of conferences and events will showcase best practice and help to engage people with international cultural heritage and its conservation and management.

Newly developed post graduate level and shorter-term courses will run alongside apprenticeships and a number of other skills training opportunities. These new courses are due to be developed and rolled out over the next year at partners’ campuses and sites, including the Engine Shed – Historic Environment Scotland’s multi-million pound, work in progress, building conservation hub in Stirling.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Collaboration is core to our work as the lead body for the historic environment and this unique alliance marks an exciting time for us and the wider sector.

“Whilst we have long benefited from working with key industry partners, this new model for collaboration will help develop and foster innovative solutions and increase knowledge and learning within the cultural heritage sector. Our shared ambition for this partnership is to capitalise on Scotland’s expertise in this field to help stimulate and drive new economic activity within the heritage sector at an international level.

“This enterprise will bring together a wealth of skills and expertise with education, research and training, reinforcing Scotland’s reputation for leading the way in conservation excellence.”

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “As an innovative, international University – committed to sharing our knowledge with the world – we are proud to play a central role in this partnership.

“Stirling are global leaders in the area of cultural heritage, and our expertise will help ensure this collaboration has a transformational impact in identifying and addressing world-wide challenges in heritage conservation.

“We are also pleased this partnership will provide alternative pathways into education, from apprenticeship to Masters level, providing students with opportunities to reach their full potential and equipping them with skills to succeed in the modern world.”

Dr Ken Thomson, Principal of Forth Valley College, said: “We’re delighted to formally commit to a long term partnership with the University of Stirling and Historic Environment Scotland.  This agreement is a natural progression of ongoing collaborative work that we are already successfully undertaking with both organisations.  By working together, we can contribute significantly to the future success of Scotland’s heritage and conservation sector through innovative education and training programmes, events and joint projects.      

“We hope to benefit the partnership by bringing extensive expertise and experience in regards to vocational and bespoke training at all points in the skills pipeline in order to deliver solutions which respond to the needs of individuals, employers and the wider sector.”

Background information

Rachel MacBeath, Communications Officer, University of Stirling, 01786 467 760 or