College That Has Something for All on the Menu; Education Correspondent Richard Warburton Examines Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies' Reputation as One of Britain's Finest Specialist Learning Institutions

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Byline: Richard Warburton

Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies represents all that is good in education in Birmingham.

The college, based in Summer Row, can now build on its growing international reputation with its transfer to a higher education institution.

For more than 30 years HE and FE programmes have been successfully taught and the college prides itself that a student can enrol with very few qualifications and eventually graduate with a masters degree.

This provision to teach numerous levels of courses makes the college unique in Britain and it is no surprise that it has caught the eye of the Government and is regarded as a jewel in the nation's Lifelong Learning crown. For 19 years the college's rise has been overseen by principal Eddie McIntyre, who is now one of the country's longest serving college heads.

He has witnessed the college grow from just 1,000 students in 1983 to 6,500 this year from more than 60 countries.

Its worldwide reputation has lead to 450 students attending lectures from outside the EU and hundreds more from across Europe. 'Everyone associated with the college is proud of its reputation, that is still growing, and the way we have been able to maintain a high level of teaching in a specialist field,' he said.

'The college is a national and international provider of programmes in support of the hospitality sector and it has developed strong relationships with industry and offers a unique portfolio of specialist further and higher education provision from entry level to masters programmes.

'I think it is this range of programmes that we are able to offer that has enabled us to expand, and keeping standards high has kept our profile high. HE and FE programmes have been successfully delivered, side-by-side, for over 30 years.

'Clear progression routes exist, enabling students with few, if any, formal qualifications to realise their true potential within the one institution.'

Last autumn the college was one of only 16 colleges nationally to be designated as Pathfinder Centres of Vocational Excellence for its catering and hospitality work by the Department for Education and Skills. …