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A red-letter day for College Innovation

SFC’s Andrew Youngson on the innovative work Scotland’s colleges undertake everyday.

A red-letter day for College InnovationThis week SFC was involved in two excellent events celebrating the college sector’s leading role in Scottish innovation.

The first was a showcase event to celebrate the successful conclusion of the FUTUREquipped project at Edinburgh College where Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, joined staff, students and businesses involved with the project to learn more about what it has achieved.

FUTUREquipped was designed around the concept of SMART homes, an area where healthcare, technology and construction fields are rapidly converging. The project was divided into three workstreams, each lending itself to a different aspect of lecturing, student or business engagement.

It was Scotland’s largest college innovation project to-date, involving representatives from 13 colleges and four innovation centres, including the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC). The colleges that participated were; Forth Valley College, West Lothian College, New College Lanarkshire College, Ayrshire College, West Highland College UHI, Inverness College UHI, North Highland College UHI, City of Glasgow College, Fife College, West College Scotland, Borders College, Edinburgh College and Dundee & Angus College.

SFC awarded £307,605 from the Scottish Government’s College Innovation Fund to FUTUREquipped project, which has been used to explore activity and opportunities to encourage and extend partnerships within the college sector with businesses/industry and innovation centres.

The result was to introduce 27 lecturers and around 500 students from health and care, construction and engineering, and information technology into future of work in these three key sectors, resulting in new cross-disciplinary ‘micro-lessons’ that are already changing how these subjects are taught in colleges, and FUTUREquipped has also supported two research projects between businesses and colleges.

A red-letter day for College InnovationThe second event of the day was the launch of Glasgow Kelvin College’s new innovation centre, officially opened by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Glasgow Kelvin College has invested £1.5m in the new Kelvin Innovation Centre for Engineering and an associated workshop, fully updating its machine-shop technologies and fitting the centre out with a specialist area for exploration and research in the field of engineering technologies. The centre’s aim is to encourage the inventive and inspired work of staff in students in a state-of-the-art environment, and challenge the boundaries of learning and teaching in this discipline.

The opening was also an opportunity to celebrate the announcement of a strengthening of the college’s valued partnership with the BESA (Building and Engineering Services Association) in the provision of high quality vocational learning in Building and Engineering throughout Scotland.

Events like yesterday’s speak to the untapped potential of the college sector, and it’s role in helping Scotland adapt to its future skills needs, in partnership with our innovation centres and local businesses.

However, it must also be said that while both of these brilliant initiatives deserve recognition and praise for these achievements, the reality is we are only scratching the surface of the wonderful innovation work Scotland’s college sector undertakes every day.

Andrew Youngson, Senior Policy Officer - 27 Feb 2019