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Cornwall College Welcomes Minister
Staff and students at Cornwall College welcomed an informative visit from the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, Bill Rammell MP.
The Minister visited Cornwall College St Austell on Wednesday 07 November 2007 to gather views from staff and students on student finance packages such as Adult Learning Grants (ALG) and the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Mr Rammell also took the time to officially open the new state-of the-art Skills Centre at the St Austell Campus.
Mr Rammell, who is responsible for implementing higher education policy including employer engagement, began his visit meeting with Cornwall College Principal, John Latham, before answering students’ questions in an hour-long Q&A and then moving on to officially open the new building.
Around fifteen students from a range of backgrounds and courses took their places for the Minister’s Q&A. Mr Rammell opened the session with a brief talk about the proposed changes to financial student packages and discussed his personal history and enthusiasm for continuing education, and the opportunities available to students. The Minister showed a particular interest in finding out more about the students’ views on how information about the financial support available to them is being communicated and their main concerns about going into higher education.
With the floor thrown open to questions, students raised several important issues facing them on the path to university. The Minister discussed financial aid options in the form of EMAs and ALGs, along with student loan packages.
Clair Raynor, 17, voiced her concern over the cost of university, even though there is assistance she said; “It’s the debt that scares me.”
Mr Rammell likened the debt to a mortgage and replied “It’s an investment for the future.”
With time called on the questions, Mr Rammell moved onto his next duty, to officially open the new Skills Centre.
The Skills Centre is a £2.8m vocational learning centre offering extensive training in subjects ranging from construction and engineering to automotive technology.
It is the third specialist centre for the county; the first was opened at the Camborne campus in April 2004 and the second at the Saltash campus in September this year. The St Austell building has been part-funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and Objective One (ERDF).
Mr Rammell said: "I am genuinely delighted to open this superb facility. The government's overriding need is to keep this country productive and competitive. By investing in estates and providing a better environment you get better outcomes, it’s not rocket science.
"Our priority in funding learning is to close the nation's skills gaps and give people the foundation and technical skills they need for their jobs, centres like this are vital."
John Latham principal of Cornwall College said; “The Skills Centre is just part of a £25m investment and the College’s long term strategy to invest in high quality facilities for skills training in response to local industry needs.
"We are working closely with employers, and this new Skills Centre will enable access to more high quality vocational and work-based learning that will open doors to real career opportunities for its students."
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership said; "The new building is the next phase of a significant investment programme in the development of Cornwall College and its contribution to the growth of businesses in Cornwall. Skilled creative productive people are the essential building blocks of a successful economy."
Mr Latham welcomed the MP’s visit and said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to the College and our students were given the opportunity to take part in the debate around higher education and finance. It was also a valuable opportunity for the Minister to hear first hand from students about the contribution the whole College makes to the young people, adults and employers in Cornwall and to see our fantastic new Skills Centre.”