Weston College awarded University Centre status

Weston College has been granted University Centre status, bringing Weston-super-Mare one step closer to becoming a university town.

Guests at the college’s annual Business Breakfast were told by Principal and Chief Executive Dr Paul Phillips OBE that it is to be designated a University Centre of the University of the West of England Bristol.

Weston College and UWE already have a proven working relationship but the new strategic agreement will affirm and further develop that partnership.

It means Weston College will be able to expand its HE provision to run courses on behalf of UWE on a much greater scale, and will be included in the UCAS option choices as University Centre Weston.

Some of the University Centre’s degrees will be taught in the resort’s historic Winter Gardens, after its refurbishment and redevelopment next year.

Through the University Centre, UWE will be represented in Weston-super-Mare, and be recognised as a leading provider of higher education in North Somerset.

UWE will work with Weston College and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to create a ‘learning village’ for Weston-super-Mare, providing education at all levels, with higher education acting as a catalyst for regeneration.

The new development will mean Weston College will promote UWE higher and research opportunities while UWE will promote Weston College’s further and higher education opportunities.

Dr Phillips said: “Getting University Centre status was crucial in terms of the Government’s development agenda, but most importantly to complete the regeneration of North Somerset.

“It means that the college, with its Multi-Academy Trust, its business development centre, and now with its University Centre, can offer the full provision of learning for our economy.”

The announcement was welcomed by Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose, who recorded a special congratulatory message that was played at the event, which was attended by many high profile guests including Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE, Sir David Carter, the Schools Commissioner for the South West of England, and Mike Jackson, Chief Executive of North Somerset Council.

Mr Penrose said: “This is a big day for Weston, and a big day for North Somerset too.

“The news that we’re about to become a University Centre is hugely important for Weston’s regeneration, hugely important for the college as a whole, and is going to make an enormous difference to our town and the communities around it for many years to come.”

The Business Breakfast also marked the launch of the college’s Annual Report.

Dr Phillips said: “Weston College is successful because we put the quality of provision at the top of our agenda, ensuring that the learner comes first in everything we do.

“Looking ahead, building further on that quality provision, alongside maintaining a strong fiscal approach, is key to our future.

“This will be further reinforced by ensuring we offer a unique, diverse provision which will give us greater resilience and strength in depth.

“Securing University Centre status is another key building block towards securing our own brighter future.”

Weston College is one of the fastest growing businesses in the region, and the University Centre status announcement follows the recent accolades of ‘College of the Year’ and ‘Overall FE Provider of the Year’ at the national Times Educational Supplement Awards.

Achieving University Centre status is expected to further enhance the growing attraction of Weston College, which has been delivering degree-level programmes since 1993.

Weston College currently provides education to nearly 30,000 learners, with over 860 students currently enrolled on degree-level courses, which are delivered in partnership with partner universities Bath Spa and the University of the West of England. A total of 23 Foundation Degrees are presently available, with 10 running through to full Honours.