Newcastle College University Centre saw its first cohort of graduates receive their degrees in July, less than a year after it was officially launched.
More than 700 students celebrated their achievements, graduating from over 70 different degrees across six ceremonies at Newcastle Civic Centre.
Newcastle College has offered higher education qualifications for a number of years and was the first further education college in the UK to be awarded the powers to develop and deliver its own degrees in 2016.
Just two years later, Newcastle College University Centre was launched, responding to a regional demand for more skilled graduates, and this year’s graduation celebrations marked the end of its successful first year.
Principal Tony Lewin commented: “Graduation is always a momentous occasion and for me it’s one of the most exciting days, to watch our students succeed and prepare to embark on the next steps of their careers.
“This year is particularly significant for both us and our students. It is the second year that we see graduates from our own degrees and the first time that our students leave us as Newcastle College University Centre graduates.
“We are very proud of our higher education provision and the success rate of our degree students. It has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and this year’s graduation ceremonies demonstrate how the University Centre has grown into a trusted alternative to traditional universities.”
Indeed, the development of Newcastle College University Centre followed recognition for the College’s existing degree provision. In 2017, it received a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Silver award, recognising excellence in teaching at higher education level and in the following year received the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education.
Its vision was, and still is, to offer a degree with a difference – merging a university experience with all of the benefits of studying at the College. For its students, this means smaller class sizes in place of lecture theatres, more one-to-one support and gaining hands-on industry experience in real working environments.
Students graduating at this year’s ceremonies heard from a number of guest speakers from across industries, including Chair of the North East LEP, Andrew Hodgson and Head of Newcastle United Foundation, Steve Beharall.
At each ceremony, students took to the stage to give their own personal thanks to their family, friends and University Centre staff.
Lucy Smith was one of the students invited to share her experience and addressing the audience of over 500 graduates and guests, the 23 year-old Games Technologies graduate from Wallsend said: “My experience on my course has been incredible and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I would like to give a personal thanks to my course lecturers and tutors for their continuous efforts to ensure we all had the best experience.
“The advice that I give to myself and my fellow students today, is to leave here with the belief that the skills we’ve learned and the experiences we’ve had at Newcastle College University Centre, will set us up to do whatever it is we want to do.”
Thomas Manley, graduating from an Honours degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said during his own speech; “While we leave here today with academic degrees, this is not the end but rather the start of a journey, which will determine who we are and what our destiny is. We should leave with the motivation and drive to follow opportunities, however unrealistic they may seem.
“Newcastle College University Centre gave me the opportunity of a second chance. A younger, more naïve me struggled with focus and distractions, but the University Centre gave me a platform to rethink my future, even giving me a chance to speak at Parliament, and make life-long friends along the way.”
With more than 1,300 graduates getting ready to embark on their careers, Mr Lewin had a final note to add, saying: “I’m excited about what the future holds for both Newcastle College University Centre and this year’s graduates.
“I wish them all the best of luck in their future career and I’m confident that their experience here has helped to set them up to achieve everything they wish to in life.”