The record of Scottish colleges in building partnerships with overseas countries over the past 10 years has won praise from inspectors. An HMIE report, International Activity in Scotland's Colleges, which is about learners from non-EU countries, says the sector should now ensure that these students are as proficient as possible in English, know what is in store for them when they come to study in a different environment and get the chance to mix with the wider student body. Surveys on behalf of the British Council have revealed that 81 per cent of international students in Scottish colleges and universities are satisfied with their learning experience, more than in competitor countries such as the United States, England, Australia and Canada.
Aberdeen College has become the first in Scotland to win one of the annual Beacon Awards for the second year in a row. They are run by the Association of Colleges in England and Wales to promote excellence and innovation in FE in the UK, and Aberdeen was recognised for its state-of-the-art virtual learning centre. Stevenson College in Edinburgh was another winner this year, for its provision of international student support.
Step into employment
A consortium of five Scottish colleges has won a Pounds 1.2 million contract from the EU to help the long-term unemployed back to work. The STEP (sustainable training and employability partnership) programme involves Ayr, Reid Kerr, Central, Anniesland and South Lanarkshire colleges.
Two Scottish principals have been honoured in the past week for their contribution to FE. Linda McKay of Forth Valley College was given the Fellowship of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, of which she was a board member; and Tom Wilson of Glasgow Metropolitan College was awarded a Fellowship of Scotland's Colleges.