New Forth Valley College Falkirk campus ready to open

Work on Forth Valley College’s iconic Falkirk campus is almost complete with staff and students only days away from moving in.

The £78 million project has been 15 years in the planning and promises to deliver a state-of-the-art learning facility for students – and the community it is at the heart of.

Further education for the Falkirk area is about to change for good as the college says goodbye to the current Grangemouth Road buildings which have served the town for over 56 years.

During that time it has trained, taught and provided residents with the skills in which to transform their lives and support the local economy.

Forth Valley College has over 14,500 students and 600 staff, offering more than 750 courses at its campuses in Falkirk, Alloa and Stirling.

Around 94 per cent of students successfully progress on to employment or university on the completion of their time at the college.

Falkirk will be the final piece in the project to replace all the campuses – the Alloa site opened in 2011 and Stirling in 2012, built at a cost of £50 million combined.

When the local site is fully operational it will house 2000 full-time students and 450 staff.

As preparations continue to move staff in on Wednesday, January 8 and open the doors for students on Monday, January 13 college principal Dr Ken Thomson paid tribute to the building they will be leaving.

Dr Thomson, said: “This old campus building has served us superbly well over the years starting life in 1963 at Falkirk Technical College and providing a base for training and garnering a reputation for excellence over a period of more than half a century.”

His association with the college stretches back 25 years and he was appointed to lead the further education establishment in August 2013. Last year he was awarded an OBE by HM The Queen for his services to further education.

He is therefore well versed to talk about the impact of the college over almost six decades.

Dr Thomson added: “As the headquarters of Forth Valley College, which became the first regional college in Scotland in 2005, the campus has helped us become one of the country’s sector leaders in further education and an award winning role model and inspiration across the whole of the UK, of how a college should function.

“It is now time to move on – though we won’t being going very far – but it is fitting to pay tribute to this worthy seat of learning that has provided Falkirk with an essential public service throughout the last five decades. Now that our ambitious £130 million estates programme is complete – with our Alloa campus opening in 2011 and our Stirling campus opening in 2012 – we are in a great position as a community college to further enhance our reputation as an essential component to help drive the economic prosperity of the Forth Valley area.

“We should always remember that our innovative award winning whole college ‘Making Learning Work’ ethos was born and nurtured in our old Falkirk campus, but it is going to be really exciting for Falkirk and the rest of Scotland to watch it mature and develop in the coming years in our state-of-the-art new campus – the sky’s the limit!”

The Falkirk campus will have a focus on science and engineering with advanced level courses in business computing, construction, sport, hairdressing, beauty therapy, healthcare and early years.

There will be advanced technology to heat and cool the building; design that allows rooms to be made larger or smaller as needed; and an event and exhibition space, as well as conference facilities.

There is a main teaching and sports block which includes classrooms, staff facilities and a gymnasium, along with a ‘super workshop’ area. Both are linked with a glass corridor with the use of natural light prevalent throughout the entire building.

Looking forward to what the new building, which has been constructed by developers Balfour Beatty, will offer, he said: “This isn’t just going to be a legacy for the students and staff but for the entire community. Now I’m looking forward to the buzz in the building when everyone is in place.”

The principal said it was vitally important that the community felt involved in the new campus.

“This building is going to have a tremendous impact on Falkirk and Forth Valley and we want everyone to make the most of all the opportunities it offers.”