As you may know from the national media, there are a wide range of curriculum and examination reforms being introduced by the government. Exeter College has carefully planned our responses to these changes and we continue to put the student experience at the heart of our decisions and plans.
This term began with our annual students awards evening at the Rougemont Hotel where we recognise and celebrate the exceptional achievements of some of our most successful students in 2015/16. The guest of honour at the awards was Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and Chairman of Midas. Steve spoke to the students, parents and guests in attendance about his experience and his tips for a successful and fulfilling career. For me, the awards evening is a real highlight of the year as it shows the wider community a glimpse of what I see every day as I move around the college and talk to students and staff. The awards evening also saw the Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines MBE honoured as the first ever Patron of Exeter College. We are delighted that a former student, who is such a role model for young people, agreed to be our first Patron. Michael’s passion for Exeter and the College is evident for all to see.
In the current climate young people often need more than great exam results to stand out from the crowd, so I am delighted to inform you that our current students are on track to break all records when it comes to raising money for the chosen college charity. You can read more in the SRC section of this newsletter but today, as I am writing this on the 31st January, our students have raised a stunning £6838.11 for the Devon Air Ambulance. In addition this academic year, after various regional tournaments, the college is exceptionally proud that an unprecedented 86 students will be competing at the National Association of Colleges Sports Championships in Nottingham. This surpasses last year total and could mean that Exeter College have the largest contingent of students at the event. The Championships take place over the weekend of 21st April. As a College we continue to invest in and support an extraordinary range of enrichment activities and I believe this is one of the reasons that our students are so successful when pursing their ambitions.
Early in this term we were delighted to learn that 13 Exeter College students have been offered places at Oxford and Cambridge Universities next year. Last year across the College a staggering 94% of applicants gained a place at their first choice University. Alongside this success, an increasing number of students are choosing to follow an apprenticeship when they complete their full-time studies, with a number using this route to take them right through to degree level study (on a part-time basis).
Listening to our learners’ voices is an important feature of College life and we were delighted that over 200 student representatives attended a learner voice event just before Christmas. I personally lead the ‘Learner Voice’ and really value the direct feedback that I receive. Many of our best innovations, like the ‘Pop up’ Learning Centre for example, have come directly from student feedback, both at tutor representative meetings and via student feedback questionnaires which we ask all students to complete twice per year.
During 2016 we have worked on two strategic developments for the College: a new strategic plan for the next five-years and, a new estate master plan for the next 20 years. We have now agreed a new Vision which is to be an exceptional college. In relation to the estate master plan we are due to sign off the final version at our next Governors meeting. The 20 year plan shows the ambition that the College has for its students, its community and its City.
While we have a plan for the future we continue to invest in the physical environment today and this year we are completing a £3m extension to our Technology Centre, so that we can teach advanced manufacturing and robotic engineering. This extension will be ready for September and has been shaped by industry partners and supported by the Local Enterprise Partnership. Over the last few years we have completed a series of developments that have transformed our Sports’ Facilities including a new Sports Hall, new Gym and, for the first time, playing fields within walking distance of the College. In June we aim to build a new 3G full-size floodlit football pitch at our Exwick Sports Centre, which will be ready for September 2017.
Finally, I would like to thank you for the part you play in the College’s ongoing success. We value your feedback, so if we are doing something well, or could improve an aspect of our work please do let us know.