Students from Furness College crossed the stage to receive their degrees and higher education qualifications in Barrow’s first graduation ceremony this week.
The hard work of more than 150 graduates was recognised at the college’s Graduation 2019 celebration at the Rating Lane campus to loud applause from family, friends and staff.
Opening the event Deputy Principal Curriculum and Quality Mark Nicholson said although there had been previous celebrations, it was Barrow’s first official graduation with degrees and honours degrees awarded in engineering, education, business, health and social care and computing.
In addition, some 42 students completed HNCs in engineering, two achieved HNDs in art and design, five received teaching qualifications and dozens of foundation degrees were awarded.
The graduates were presented by guest speaker Jo Lappin, Chief Executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, who told them they played an important role in the county’s future.
She congratulated them on their ‘huge achievement’ and urged them to bring energy, passion and life to their careers.
“You will grow and develop and are our future leaders,” she said. “We need your skills – welcome to team Cumbria.”
Students packed the theatre at the sixth form campus joined by college staff and family and friends who have supported them through their studies. The qualifications they have been awarded are accredited by universities including Lancaster University, University of Cumbria, UCLan and Pearson and are taught at Channelside in Barrow.
Guest speaker Amie Marshall, of Kendal, who has completed a foundation degree in business management, specialising in project management, spoke on behalf of the students.
“All of us have juggled working full time with studying – on top of this this many of us have looked after kids, one of us had one, some moved house, changed jobs, planned weddings and dealt with personal losses.
“All the things life has thrown at us, whilst working in class and project teams, has made us a close group, by the end of our time together I think we were holding each other up too so I also think we should thank each other.”
She thanked the teaching staff and said she was already using her skills to manage projects in her role as a buyer at James Cropper in Burneside.
Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Wren told graduates that progressing their education would benefit them for the rest of their lives.
“Whether it’s the subject knowledge you have gained, the practical skills, the discipline and self-motivation, or the added confidence that study and achievement gives you – you will continue to use these skills and benefit from them for years to come. I certainly have, despite it being a long time since walked up on to the stage at my graduation, wondering what the future held.
“I would never have thought for a minute that 26 years later, I would have returned to Cumbria to lead one of the country’s most successful colleges.”
He said the college had recently been reaccredited with its silver award under the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework for ‘consistently exceeding’ rigorous national quality requirements for its higher education.
“We scored an excellent rating for ensuring students go into highly skilled employment after their studies and for the academic support we offer. Good news for those of you now entering the job market,” he said.
Vice Chair of Governors Jan Fielding gave the vote of thanks and said she was delighted that students had the chance to study degrees in Barrow and proud to be part of such an uplifting event.
Furness College offers wide range of higher education courses in subjects ranging from IT, engineering, health and social care, business, construction, art and teaching. There are around 500 students currently on its programmes, which offer both full-time and part time study options for those already in employment.