John Callaghan - Principal & Chief Executive

John Callaghan

Principal & Chief Executive

Hello and welcome!

We are now all too aware of how life has changed since March 2020 due to Covid-19. Throughout the pandemic the College’s campuses have remained open for vulnerable students and children of key workers, whilst lessons for other students continued online.

As our economy bounces back, there’s never been a better time to be part of Solihull College & University Centre – with tailored courses offered to suit the needs of industry and the local economy. There is a place for you here at the College even if your previous exam results were disappointing, or as an adult you are returning to learning after a break in studying. The College had a record number of enrolments in September 2020 and our applications for September 2021 are already very promising.

There are increasing numbers of high achievers who instead of choosing A-Levels are preferring to take the more practical and specialised vocational route, whether via full time courses or apprenticeships. 95% of higher institutions in the UK accept BTEC or other vocational qualifications for entry, so higher education is a popular destination for our students – either here at our University Centre or at universities across the country.

The College continues to be at the forefront of innovation with investment in outstanding facilities for our students. Recent developments include new life science labs and a virtual reality lab introduced at Blossomfield Campus and world-class flight simulators and a former Royal Navy Aircraft at our Woodlands Campus. We have also upgraded our motor vehicle facilities to train students to deal with new electric and hybrid vehicle and driverless technologies. School leavers, apprentices, university level and adult learners can thrive in facilities unmatched in the region.

At our Stratford-upon-Avon College campus, we have increased capital investment in facilities amounting to a total of £10.3m following growth of 150 full time students. We have completed phases 1 and 2 to the tune of £4m and we plan a further 3 phases to enhance our first-class creative provision in many arts related disciplines, such as Music and Theatre production, Performing Arts and Media. We are also seeing significant growth in our Health & Social Care, Construction, Motor Vehicle, Business and Computing provision.

The College links closely with local industry and has recently partnered with RMF, a high-quality construction company here in Solihull, to significantly expand our construction plant training. We have also completed the Outpost area for employers to work closely with our Media and Visual Arts students to bring real life briefs for them to work on. Our investment for these projects will be in the region of £5m supported by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

We have again been assessed as financially strong and resilient for the future with our funding body confirming our outstanding financial health. The College was graded ‘Good’ across all areas by Ofsted in November 2016 and has been granted government approval to use the ‘University Centre’ brand due to the high numbers and breadth of our higher education offer and the top marks achieved in a QAA review of our higher education provision. We were also the only college in the region and 5% of colleges nationally to be graded TEF Gold for our HE work prior to our merger.

The Head Quarters of Solihull Chamber of Commerce is based at Blossomfield Campus, which has helped to broker many employer links, from work experience and expert inputs, to offers of employment and apprenticeships for many of our students.

Other successes include leading the Greater Birmingham Institute of Technology – a collaboration between 4 universities and 3 FE colleges in Birmingham and Solihull. We were chosen as one of 12 education providers in the country to be selected. The Institute of Technology will provide higher level technical skills to meet the skills shortages in the region. We are also introducing the digital T-Level in September 2021 in preparation for the full roll out planned by 2025.

We aim to find a place for everyone, either at Solihull or Stratford-upon-Avon, with courses offered from beginner right up to degree-level. Our staff possess the expertise and drive to ensure students leave the College with the skills necessary to make their mark in their chosen industry.

I wish you the very best for your studies with us.