Bournemouth and Poole College sets out ambitious growth plans as it opens new University Centre

Phil Sayles and Mayor of Poole, Pete Miles, open the University Centre at Bournemouth and Poole College

By Giles Gwinnett [email protected]

Published: June 27, 2024 | Updated: 27th June 2024

The Jellicoe theatre at Bournemouth and Poole College was packed out as the further education institution unveiled its strategy up to 2030 and officially opened its new University Centre.

The new centre at the North Road, Poole campus, has transformed an existing building, and been funded via a £1.2 million investment from the government and the college. The site will educate more than 600 students a year, who are on degree-level courses in state-of-the art classrooms and workspaces.

Cutting the ribbon on the sparkling building, surrounded by stakeholders and interested parties, was Phil Sayles, principal and chief executive of the college, alongside Poole mayor Pete Miles.

Earlier, Sayles had told the audience that ‘ambition’ and ‘governance’ had been key themes in forming the college’s plan for the rest of the decade, which had begun in early 2022.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic and associated issues, the college was now on a firmer footing, he added.

“At Bournemouth & Poole College our focus is on teaching knowledge and technical skills,” he said, pointing out that in Dorset and the BCP Council area, the number of skilled workers needed currently exceeded the available workforce – a pressure, which is only likely to get worse in the remainder of the decade.

The biggest project within the overall strategy has been the £36 million, four-storey new building at the Bournemouth campus, where construction started in March this year, he explained.

As well as the new University Centre at Poole, the college also wants to develop its engineering spaces, invest further in digital technology  and transform some health and care facilities.

It also aims to realise  a new ‘centre of excellence’ at Poole for construction training – a sector, in which by 2035, another 7,000 new jobs will be needed in the county.

Sayles said the aim was for the college to become an “aspirational destination” and a first choice for businesses.

The new University Centre offers BA (Hons), Foundation degrees and HNC or HND courses. It also offers degree-level health courses. Health and care studies are already a key fixture at the college.

Collaboration is central to the college’s strategy and higher course are delivered in partnership with AECC University College, Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), Bournemouth university, and the university of Wolverhampton. The college has also forged strong links with business and industry.

Professor Paul Gough, the vice chancellor at AUB, highlighted the growing interest in studying the creative arts, with over 200 films a year and many more TV shows now made in the UK, and many graduates from the county going onto industry jobs.

Also speaking to the assembled, James Hills, director of learning (engineering) at Bournemouth and Poole College, said more than 1,100 students and apprentices go through courses in that field each year at the college.

“Engineering is one of the most important sectors in the Dorset economy,” he said, adding that it employed 10 per cent of the local workforce and contributed £1.7 million to the local economy.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber, which had been involved in formulating the strategy, noted that the college had been a member of the chamber for 41 years and a partner for the last nine and that the relationship had “never been stronger”.

He noted that since COVID, there were one million less people in the UK workforce.

“Skills are the most important component within business growth,” he said, adding that 62% of organisations were facing skills shortages.

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