Wednesday, 9 December 2009

David Willetts visit

I always recommend the sleeper train to Shadow Cabinet members visiting Cornwall. Today we had David Willetts with a very busy schedule and we also needed to get him back to London for a speech tonight.

We kicked off with a briefing at the Knowledge Spa in Truro with a group of staff involved in delivering the development of further and higher education provision in Cornwall and a more detailed look at some of the plans for the medical school and Truro College.

Cornwall has developed some very innovative ideas in further and higher education. The Combined Universties for Cornwall is a partnership that includes Exeter University, the Falmouth School of Arts and Plymouth University. It has been successful at increasing higher education provision in Cornwall and is a model that might be worth replicating elsewhere in the country. David Willetts was keen to learn more about it today.

Next up was a visit to the Tremough Campus for a briefing on the research work being done into marine energy and a tour of the design facilities at the Falmouth School of Arts. We held a marine energy summit at Tremough earlier in the summer and so it was useful to get an update on progress with the Wave Hub project.

We finished the morning with a visit to Cornwall College Camborne where David was able to sit in on a seminar for students on a renewable energy course. They were receiving presentations from and the chance to ask questions of recent graduates who were now in the world of work. Top of their concern was whether they too would be able to get jobs after completing their studies and so sessions like this are incredibly important.

The challenge in the last decade has been getting more people into further and higher education. The challenge now is going to be getting people from study into work and Cornwall College has pioneered a number of new ideas to bring their work closer to the world of business.