BORDERS College has a significant role to play in the economic development of the region, according to principal Liz McIntyre, writes Andrew Keddie.
Addressing an audience of more than 600 at the annual graduation ceremony in Kelso on Friday, Ms McIntyre set out her stall for the further education institution against a backdrop of public spending cuts.
“Colleges across Scotland are facing a very challenging future,” she told graduates, guests, families and friends.
She went on: “The Scottish Government has recently announced a major review of the post-14 education sector, set against a background of decreasing financial resources.
“But maintaining a skilled and qualified workforce is a key element to economic recovery and we, again this year, have enrolled large numbers of students who have seen the opportunity to provide themselves with the edge in a difficult economic environment.
“Borders College will endeavour to continue to deliver high-quality education and training to meet the needs of our community and businesses in the face of what will undoubtedly be a challenging period of change.”
While it was a proud occasion for all 151 graduates, it was an extra special day for footballing legend John Collins who was “thrilled” to receive an Honorary Fellowship of the college.
Ms McIntyre paid tribute to the achievements of the Galashiels-born star, now a freelance pundit, in a distinguished playing career that took him from Hutchison Vale Boys Club to Hibs, Celtic, Monaco, Everton and Fulham.
As an internationalist, the cultured midfielder won 58 Scottish caps and scored 12 goals.
Mr Collins, now 43, said that in his days as a youth player, he did not consider himself more talented than many of his peers.
“Looking back on why I was relatively successful and others were less so, I am certain it was down to hard work and determination,” he told the audience.
“These were the qualities which really stood me in good stead and which I commend to you all today in whatever career you choose to pursue”, he added.
It was a message reinforced by Ms McIntyre as she praised all graduates and college staff at the 14th annual ceremony, the last five of which have been held in the conference centre at Springwood Park.
She stated: “As I look out on a group which contains skilled and qualified business administrators, computer experts, hairdressers, artists and designers, beauty therapists, chefs and catering managers, education and healthcare professionals, landscapers and farmers, car mechanics and plumbers, it is not hard to imagine what our lives would be like without such professionals.
“As we go through a typical day – using our central heating to take a shower, dropping our children at the nursery, eating lunch at a local restaurant, sending an email, visting the hairdresser, taking the car for an MOT or calling in at the gym on the way home – we are likely to have needed or encountered the skills of someone who trained at Borders College.
“What an amazing testiment to the value of collegues in producing the skills our region and country need..
“You stand on the brink of a bright and exciting future and Borders College is committed to continue generating such futures. You have certainly made Borders College very proud.”