Edinburgh College encouraged by 50% student rise

Teaching union the EIS had recently warned that Edinburgh College was in 'precipitous decline'. Picture: Jon Savage

Teaching union the EIS had recently warned that Edinburgh College was in 'precipitous decline'. Picture: Jon Savage

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THE number of students applying to study at Edinburgh College has jumped nearly 50 per cent this year, raising hopes that the institution has turned the corner on falling rolls.

More than 26,300 applications have signed up for courses for the next academic year following a drive to build greater bridges between the college and local schools.

We continue to develop a curriculum that produces skilled and work-ready college graduates

Craig Wilson

The rise follows warnings from the country’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), that the college was in a state of “precipitous decline”. The number of students rose slightly last year after falling nearly 40 per cent between 2010-11 and 2013-14.

College management are hopeful that the surge in applications will grow even further between now and August when classes begin.

Craig Wilson, Edinburgh College acting principal, said he was “encouraged” by the increasing demand.

He added: “One of our major strategic priorities is growth and we believe that a key driver behind the jump in applications is our active engagement with schools.

“We continue to develop a curriculum that meets the needs of the region and that produces skilled and work-ready college graduates to fill the skills gaps identified by local employers. Over the last year we have enhanced both the applications and enrolment processes.

“One element of the new approach is a more efficient process of advising and redirecting initially unsuccessful applicants to other more appropriate college courses so that we are opening the doors of Edinburgh College to as many people as possible.”

Jeroen van Herk, Edinburgh College’s student president, added: “I’m delighted to hear that more and more people are looking to study at Edinburgh College.

“With fantastically dedicated lecturers, an award winning Students’ Association, and as the Scottish Student Sport College champions for the second year, we’re hard to beat.”

The EIS has warned about a collapse in college registrations after it emerged that the college – formed in 2012 through the merger of Telford, Stevenson and Jewel & Esk colleges – has battled to balance the books amid Scottish Funding Council cuts.

Union leaders said the controversial merger had created image problems which had been discouraging potential applicants. The college management, however, say that the latest application figures show that they have turned the corner.

East Lothian-born Annette Bruton, the former chief executive of the Care Commission, takes over as college principal this week. A former geography teacher, Ms Bruton also worked in learning support and special educational needs, before joining HM Inspectorate of Education in 2001 and was one of six chief inspectors of education.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com