Around 160 Exeter College higher education students took to the streets today (26th October) as they donned their caps and gowns to process through the city for their Graduation Ceremony, held at Exeter Cathedral at 2.30pm.
With the Cathedral providing the spectacular backdrop to the formal ceremony, over 850 guests joined the students of all ages to celebrate their achievements at the spectacular event, including the Lord Mayor, representatives of Exeter College and its Board of Governors, VIPs from Devon schools, colleges, business and community partners and the graduates’ families and friends.
The guest speaker was Tim Jones, chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership who addressed, among others, senior representatives of the Universities of Exeter, Plymouth, Kingston and Marjon who, with Exeter College’s Principal, officially acknowledged the graduates of 2012.
The students from all over Devon and the south west were awarded qualifications ranging from BA to Foundation Degrees, HNCs and HNDs in a broad range of subject areas offered at the college including Business Management, Health and Social Care, Performance Production, Legal Practice, Sports Therapy, Early Years, Engineering and Construction.
Twenty three of the 160 graduates had an extra special reason to celebrate, becoming the first graduates of the Flybe Engineering Diploma/FdSc Aircraft Engineering qualification, the country’s only four-year programme in Aerospace Engineering. All 23 will soon receive their Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ certification from the Civil Aviation Authority and all are already fully employed – 16 with Flybe with the remainder having taken up jobs with other aircraft engineering employers across the country.
After being the only UK airline to sign the Government’s Skills’ Pledge in 2007, Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline developed Flybe’s unique engineering qualification in conjunction with its education partner, Exeter College, a programme of study that combines gaining the necessary academic qualifications alongside hands-on experience.
Jim French, Flybe’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said: “We are extremely proud of our very first Flybe Engineering graduates. Their successful completion and dedication to the four-year programme, which is a founding element of our Flybe Apprentice Programme, marks yet another important milestone for Flybe’s Training Academy. What is of course an added bonus is the realisation that all our students are now fully employed. With the aviation industry as a whole facing a shortage of engineers, the fact that 23 newly qualified engineers are now out in the workforce is a magnificent result for us all.”
One of the successful graduates Chris Alexander, said “After spending two weeks work experience at Flybe in 2008 and really enjoying it, I decided to undertake the 4 year Flybe Apprenticeship Scheme where I not only obtained a foundation degree, BTEC national certificate but also worked hard to achieve my aircraft maintenance engineers licence. The course has enabled me to obtain a full time position working for Flybe in the hangars at Exeter, which couldn’t have worked out better. I am so pleased that I decided to take up this qualification, it has really opened up a lot of opportunities for me and will enable me to travel the world to work on different aircraft types.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Exeter College Principal, Richard Atkins, praised the graduating students saying “We are very proud of our higher education courses at the college which, in partnership with the universities and awarding bodies, provide exciting and challenging experiences to a range of students each year. Many of our students are juggling work and home commitments with their academic studies and this prestigious occasion, our fifth Ceremony at the Cathedral, truly reflects their achievements and the quality of the courses we offer.
"Each year we introduce new courses and developments, and we are particularly proud that our Flybe Engineering students, enrolled four years ago as a first in the aircraft industry, are now graduating – another first for the region. We are also delighted that shoppers and visitors could join us in this proud occasion since, for the first time, our graduates processed through the high streets of Exeter.