Galashiels-based Borders College is reaping the rewards of the new railway link with an increase in applications to the college of 74% per cent in the 2016/17 period compared to the previous year from people living in the Mid and East Lothian areas.
College staff are now liaising with an increased number of schools and careers advisors in both counties and have attended 14 events to promote the range of courses on offer from Borders College.
Cameron Reith, Marketing Manager at Borders College, said: “There is no doubt that the opening of the Borders Railway gave many potential students, from the Lothians, the option of attending Borders College because of the ease of travel. Our data tells us that at least 66 per cent of these students are making use of the railway. Some of these students will be funded or part funded and others will be meeting the cost of travel themselves.”
Head of Student Services, Clare Nairn added: “Working with our Lothian colleagues we would hope to see the numbers travelling to Borders College on the railway increase as more and more people from this area become aware of just how accessible one of Scotland’s most successful colleges is due to the re-opening of the Borders Railway.”
In terms of actual enrolments from the Lothians area, the college saw an increase of 47 per cent from the period 2015/2016 to the current academic year 2016/2017 currently 53 students.
Acting Principal Heather Anderson said: “Borders College is amongst the top performing Colleges in Scotland and this along with some of the unique courses that we offer, for example Mountain biking and Gamekeeping, make us the first choice for many students entering further education.”
Danny Cusick of Scottish Enterprise, who chairs the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, added: “It’s fantastic to hear that the railway is already creating new study options in the area, and is another great example as to how the Borders Railway is making a such a positive impact across the entire region. As well as providing students with greater choice for their future development, the skills and career paths provided by Borders College and all education providers are essential for strengthening the local economy.”
Cathy Craig, Commercial Director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “It’s fantastic that Borders College is attracting more students thanks to the railway. With frequent services calling within walking distance of the college, and excellent value tickets for 16-25 railcard holders, the line is opening up new opportunities for learning.”