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The Corporation

Posted: 20/05/09

Yes Minister! College students air their views

Students at West Nottinghamshire College staged their very own version of Question Time with Further Education Minister Siôn Simon MP.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education took part in a Student Listening Meeting during a visit to the College last week (on Thursday 14 May, 2009).

A group of 14 students discussed issues affecting young people during the hour-long debate with the MP for Birmingham Erdington.

Twenty-year-old electrical installation student Elliott Milton, from Thurgarton, Nottingham, said: “Mr Simon asked what we thought of college life and whether we were enjoying our time here. He was very easy to get along with and had time to listen to our views.” 

Students also stressed the importance of the College’s £96m building programme getting the go ahead.

Plans to build a new ‘super-college’ are currently on hold while the Learning and Skills Council decides which college building schemes to prioritise nationally, after its Building Colleges for the Future programme ran into difficulties.

A Level student Sam Allen, 20, from Mansfield, said: “Mr Simon asked us why we wanted a new college when some of us were leaving soon. I explained that it would bring more growth and opportunities our way and with the leadership of our Principal, we could make improvements to both the College and our community.”

National Diploma media student Tammie Devonshire, 19, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, said: “We explained that the new college is not just about us – it’s about future generations. I have brothers and sisters who I hope will benefit from the new facilities and it would be great to have all our college sites under one roof.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Simon said: “Further Education is about great people doing great things. It was fantastic to talk to learners, who are the whole point of the FE system.

“It’s really important we work with learners to shape the future of the college system and give power and choice directly into their hands. Learners know what they need and are best placed to direct the future of colleges.”

Asha Khemka OBE, Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College, said: “These types of discussions are vital to engaging young people in politics and democracy and, most importantly, giving them a voice.

“The students enjoyed sharing their views with Mr Simon and showed great maturity during the debate. They were a real credit to the College.”