Two new innovative degree programmes aimed at creating ‘work ready’ graduates for Scotland’s life science and tourism sectors have reached an important milestone.
The first group of students on the integrated degree programmes, offered as a result of a partnership between the University of Stirling and Forth Valley College, have celebrated their graduation.
A number of students graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Biological Science, while others achieved a BA (Hons) in Heritage and Conservation.
Their graduation ceremony took place this week at the University of Stirling’s Gannochy National Tennis Centre.
Both undergraduate degrees were launched in August 2013 and were designed with input from key industry employers. The aim for both programmes was to create ‘work ready’ graduates with a focus on developing vocational skills and gaining hands-on experience.
Students primarily spent the first two years studying at Forth Valley College’s Falkirk or Stirling campuses before completing their studies at the University of Stirling. They were recognised as university undergraduates throughout the course and had access to resources and facilities at both the University and the College.
Mature students Philippe Maron and Wendy Russell were among the first to graduate from the integrated degree programmes with a BA (Hons) in Heritage and Conservation.
Philippe, who moved to Scotland from France five years ago, said: “The degree programme provides a good basis that allows graduates to pursue a career in heritage or open the doors to do something completely different.
“It has been really important for me.”
Philippe, who lives in Stirlingshire, is going on to study a Masters in Historical Research at the University.
Similarly, the integrated degree programme provided mother Wendy Russell, from Dunblane, with the option to return to education.
She explained: “I didn’t have the qualifications. I was out of the workplace and had a family but I wanted to go back into education, so this appealed to me.
“I believe some of the students on our course have done as well, if not better, than the history students who have been at the University since the very beginning.
“The integrated programme certainly gave me the option to do something I would not have been able to do otherwise. I would definitely encourage others to try it.”
Like Philippe, Wendy has also opted to stay at the University where she will embark upon a Masters Degree in Publishing Studies.
Due to the success of the programmes, a further two integrated degrees are now also offered by the University of Stirling and Forth Valley College – a BSc (Hons) Applied Computing and a BA (Hons) Digital Media.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said:
“The University of Stirling and Forth Valley College are delighted to have developed these two highly innovative programmes and it is exciting to see such a high calibre of students graduating today.
“The BA (Hons) Heritage and Conservation and the BSc (Hons) Applied Biological Science degrees produce high quality graduates who are equipped with the technical skills, knowledge and work experience demanded by employers.”
Dr Ken Thomson, Principal for Forth Valley College, said: “I’m extremely proud of all the graduates and would like to wish them every success in their careers going forward. The hands-on experience they have gained, along with their degree qualification, will stand them in good stead for future success.
“The University of Stirling is a key strategic partner for the College and we regularly work together to benefit our communities. These programmes deliver the highly skilled graduates which employers are crying out for. The focus on vocational training alongside academic study will ensure graduates can hit the ground running. This is vital for the continued success of key sectors and industries across Scotland.
“The programmes are also widening access to higher education by offering an alternative route to a university degree.”