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A licence to print quality

Mike Sharratt is building a website for Alan Simpson, the MP for South Nottingham. He's held meetings with his client in Westminster, assembled a design and production team and is putting the finishing touches to the site.

Yet Mike, aged 28, isn't even in the multimedia industry - he's in the second year of an HND multimedia course at South Nottingham College.

With experience like this, he can expect to walk into a job when he leaves says his tutor Tony Parr. "The flavour of the work we do here is very different. It's a progressive professional approach. We don't tell students to go away and find a job - they go out and work in industry before they leave college."

This approach has brought South Nottingham College recognition. David Blunkett cited it as a model centre of vocational excellence in his speech to the Association of Colleges conference last year.

Thanks to links with firms such as Kodak, Fuji and Applemac, its 600 full-time and 1,300 part-time students are using state-of-the-art technology at the college's refurbished Charnwood Centre. Students are offered courses rom level one to Higher National Diplomas in digital imaging, print photography and media. It is also developing graduate apprenticeships for the print industry and has plans for a foundation degree in photography.

Charnwood lies on the edge of Nottingham's huge Clifton estate and opens up its facilities to the community. It offers short Open College Network courses for local secondary pupils.

The college has long had links with the print industry, a big local employer. But in the past five years it has specialised and brought print, photography and communication together under one roof.

At one end of the building, students learn Web-page design. At the other, those looking for a career in television production are preparing for an end-of-year show that will be filmed in front of Carlton Television and the BBC.

Most of the Charnwood staff have been self-employed or at senior management level in their respective areas of expertise.

"We have industry advising us on how education should be so they get the students they want," says Bob Coe, director of multimedia.


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