Scotland’s colleges have opened their doors to welcome back students for the first full term without Covid restrictions for more than two years.
And, while the sector was hailed for the speedy implementation of innovative new teaching methods to deal with multiple lockdowns, there is a mood of optimism now that face-to-face learning is back in full flow.
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: “College campuses are welcoming tens of thousands of students at the start of term who will be able to enjoy the full student experience without Covid restrictions and limitations.
“I’m delighted that students are filling workshops, classrooms, studios, and libraries once again.
“What most students and staff are excited about is the return of hands-on and practical learning and teaching which is invaluable for students studying everything from social care to beauty therapy, construction to electric car repair.
“Our staff across Scotland’s college sector did an incredible job in adapting to an unprecedented pandemic in 2020. But, there is no doubt that the entire sector has been looking forward to getting back to delivering the face-to-face learning our students want and deserve.
“Scotland has world-class colleges equipped with the incredible facilities and it’s exciting to get back to what we do best – providing outstanding teaching, skills provision and student experiences.
New College Lanarkshire barbering student Chloe Louise McCafferty was one of those sharing in the excitement at the Coatbridge campus. She said: “I’m excited about learning all the different barbering techniques, and I am looking forward to being in the campus environment. You definitely learn more on campus that you can do online.”
Josh Taylor, HND Media and Communications: “After a year of blended learning, I can’t wait for the second year of my HND to be back on campus from the get-go. The last few years have been tough for everyone, so I’m glad we’re at a point where things feel like they’re finally headed to real normality.
“Seeing so many other students on campus for Freshers and inductions felt incredible, and I’m really looking forward to my classes having that same energy. It’s a completely different atmosphere when you’re surrounded by other students, and it’s made me really excited to get back on campus and start my final year.”
Shona Struthers added: “Clearly there are real challenges within the economy, but colleges are places of opportunity. Tens of thousands of vacancies exist in sectors such as hospitality, construction, health care and digital for individuals equipped with the right qualifications and skills.
“The ‘green revolution’ is creating many new jobs. Offshore windfarms alone will need thousands of workers. And the maintenance of electric vehicles along with the creation of the infrastructure to support them will mean even more opportunities for skilled college graduates.
“And, whether you’re a school leaver, someone wanting to acquire new skills or upgrade existing ones, there’s still time to choose to opt for college. Most still have space on scores of courses – many available on your doorstep – which could provide the pathway to a well-paid and fulfilling career.”