Heriot-Watt cuts fashion students a wee bit of slack

18th May 2012 at 01:00
University performs U-turn to give college applicants access to degree course

Cardonald College fashion students won a reprieve last week after Heriot-Watt University performed a U-turn and said it would reconsider their applications to join its fashion degree course.

Two weeks ago, TESS revealed the university had unexpectedly severed its decade-long articulation agreement with the college, leaving 29 HND students at Cardonald in the lurch. Edinburgh's Telford College and North Glasgow College are also understood to have been affected.

Heriot-Watt said originally that due to high entry levels at first year, it had no space left on the degree course for students wishing to join it in second or third year.

But it has now agreed to provide places for those who meet the entry criteria and pay any penalty costs incurred for breaching its cap on numbers. It apologised to Cardonald for the upset.

Heriot-Watt principal Steve Chapman told Cardonald's head of faculty, Alex McCluskey, that the university was willing to enter talks with the college about providing a degree at Cardonald from 2013.

Cardonald's principal, Susan Walsh, said: "I was very pleased that the principal of Heriot-Watt University took such definitive action when he became aware of the extent of the distress suffered by our students.

"We appreciate that universities are complex organisations and communication difficulties sometimes make for unwise decisions. However, the mark of a good institution is the integrity it shows in facing its errors of judgement and rectifying them.

"Heriot-Watt University has done so, and I am sure our students - who will now move on to years 2 and 3 of their chosen degree programmes - will have had their faith in the university restored and go on to complete their degrees successfully."

Heriot-Watt has agreed to provide the college with a timetable for future decision-making, as well as a direct contact for information on articulation issues. This should allow Cardonald to give its students earlier guidance on changes in the university's student numbers, said Mrs Walsh.

A spokeswoman for Heriot-Watt said the university valued its wide-ranging articulation agreements with colleges, but all applications were dependent on the number of places available, and there was a cap applied to places for Scottish applicants.

"In the case of applicants for second- and third-year entry to the School of Textiles and Design's fashion design course, the university has taken the decision to extend the number of available places for those applicants from our partner colleges who meet entry criteria, and to absorb any potential penalty costs that may involve," she said.

"We remain committed to working in partnership with our college associates as part of our commitment to wider university access."

Applications to adam smith soar

Adam Smith College in Fife has seen its student application numbers soar, despite recent investigations into how it is run.

The college is receiving an average of more than 100 applications per day, and overall applications are up by 9 per cent on last year.

Courses in hair and beauty and care are proving very popular, the college said.

Last month, it emerged that the college could face further investigations by the Scottish Funding Council, following an initial review in February of allegations of bullying by senior staff and the early retirement of principal Dr Craig Thomson.

Future inquiries could examine allegations of the misuse of funds by college staff.

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk.

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