Scotland’s Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training Mr Jamie Hepburn, officially opened Forth Valley College’s award winning Falkirk Campus at a celebration event on Tuesday 6 December.
The £78 million state-of-the-art campus opened its doors to students in January 2020, but an official opening ceremony earmarked for April of that year, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic lockdown.
However, the Minister was delighted to mark the official opening of FVC’s headquarters on Tuesday and the completion of the College’s ambitious £128 million estates programme which saw their Alloa Campus (£21 million) opened in 2011 and their Stirling Campus (£29 million) opened a year later. The Scottish Government’s investment in the construction of the new Falkirk campus, made it one of the largest publicly funded building projects in Scotland.
Forth Valley College’s Principal and Chief Executive Professor Ken Thomson OBE, and Interim Chair of the Forth Valley College Board of Management Trudi Craggs also welcomed Mike Cantlay Chair of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Hector MacAuley Managing Director at Balfour Beatty, the main contractors of the new campus, and Neil Gillespie, Design Director at Reiach and Hall Architects, who designed the award winning building, to the celebration.
The Campus has just missed out on this year’s Andrew Doolan Prize for the best building in Scotland and was also one of six finalists recently in the highly acclaimed UK wide Stirling Prize for the best building in the UK 2022.
The Campus was open for just over two months when it was closed in March 2020. During the unprecedented Covid pandemic lockdown, the College underwent a transformation from face-to-face teaching to remote learning for students.
However, the Falkirk Campus was not idle during this time and showed what a valuable community asset it has become, as NHS Forth Valley accepted an offer from management to use it – along with the College’s sister campuses in Alloa and Stirling – as Covid vaccination centres, where more than 300,000 people from the Forth Valley area received vaccinations. Since the easing of restrictions and the return to normality, the Falkirk Campus has helped lead the regional economic revival of the Forth Valley area.
Mr Jamie Hepburn, Scotland’s Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, was given an extensive tour of the Campus and spent time in the bespoke science labs, engineering super workshop and innovative renewables training centre.
Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training Jamie Hepburn said: “This £78 million campus is a remarkable setting for learning and demonstrates Forth Valley College’s commitment to providing the best learning opportunities possible to the people of this region.
“It also shows this Government’s investment and belief in the college sector. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, the role of Scotland’s colleges in rebuilding our economy will be even more crucial than ever.
“Forth Valley College should take huge pride in the role it plays in ensuring Scotland has the skilled workforce our communities, employers, and economy require.”
Professor Ken Thomson OBE, Forth Valley College Principal, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training here today, and to finally see our fantastic Falkirk Campus officially opened.
“We have been waiting on this day for more than two and a half years and all our staff and students deserve to savour this moment for everything they have been through over that time.
“Our new HQ – which focuses heavily on training facilities designed for science and technology, engineering, sport and healthcare – will enhance further education for the people of Falkirk and beyond, for years to come.
“We can’t thank architects Reiach and Hall and our main contractors Balfour Beatty enough for designing and constructing our new building and helping us to realise our vision, and I personally would like to thank everyone who has worked on the project for guiding it to completion.”
Designed by architects Reiach and Hall and constructed by Balfour Beatty, the unique state-of-the-art facilities include world class laboratories, a process training rig, transmission training centre, distillation plant, virtual control room, mini-rig, biotechnology centre, sports centre and front of house training salons for hairdressing and beauty therapy.
The progressive approach to learning and teaching in the campus is enhanced by cutting edge classrooms, flexible spaces across the campus and highly advanced technology throughout. Other facilities include a first class learning resource centre, food outlets, conferencing and sports facilities.
The 20,709 square metre facility hosts 450 members of staff and caters for 2,000 full-time students.
Trudi Craggs, Interim Chair of FVC’s Board of Management, said: “It is an absolute pleasure to be here today to be part of the official opening of our Falkirk Campus. I have been involved on the board since the detailed design stage. I have watched our vision becoming a reality during the construction period and had the honour of taking part in the topping out ceremony, putting my hand prints in the concrete on the roof!
“I have seen first-hand all of the hard work that has gone in to getting us to today, not only by college staff, but also by Balfour Beatty and their team. Completing the building and decanting from the old campus while still delivering for our students was no mean feat. We now have a fantastic facility fitting for the College, providing our students with a second to none learning environment.
“I would like to thank Ken and his senior management team for their vision, tenacity and hard work. And I would also thank my fellow board members for believing in and fully supporting the project and providing oversight and guidance throughout.”
Forth Valley Chamber are proud to support Chamber Members, Forth Valley College in their dedication to Making Learning Work. We would like to wish President, Ken Thomson, the absolute best in his new chapter. You will be dearly missed at the college but what a legacy you leave behind! The Chamber Team have been honoured to work with you Ken.