HALESOWEN College's brand new University Centre building took pride of place during its open weekend.

The new centre will help students achieve higher qualifications and increase the number of foundation degrees, HNC and HND courses on offer.

The college's partnerships with the University of Worcester and Newman University, which have blossomed in recent years, will also be strengthened by the new centre.

Keith Bate, Halesowen College principal, said: “We are passionate to support students of all ages into university courses and offer these alternative routes.

“The University Centre will be the hub of activity for our range of higher education courses to support local people in moving forward in their education and careers.

“Students finishing their BTEC courses or A levels with us will have a bigger choice of options which is fantastic news.”

Subjects which will be boosted by the new centre include animal management, business, graphics web design and multimedia, health and social care, public services and sports studies.

The college offers adult students a route straight to university through its access course and more than 300 adult students have returned to Halesowen College to advance their education and career prospects.

April Garratt, principal at Hillcrest School, is a former access student who decided to go back to university as an adult when she had a young family.

She said: “The more we can provide courses like this the more people can achieve their potential and follow their chosen career path.

“It is great the college is working to inspire and motivate learners of all ages.”

The partnership between the college and the University of Worcester extends over a decade and over five years with Newman University.

Professor David Green, vice chancellor and chief executive of the University of Worcester said: “Halesowen College is going from strength to strength.

"The University of Worcester greatly values our long-standing, increasingly close and always dynamic partnership with the College. We are certain that the development of this new higher education centre will help encourage many more students from Halesowen to make even more of their potential, progress to higher education and secure worthwhile, higher level qualifications and employment.”

The partnership with Newman University started with a foundation degree in business and media being based at the college.

Professor Peter Lutzeier, vice chancellor of Newman University added: “At Newman University, we very much welcome Halesowen College’s decision to establish a University Centre.

"This initiative builds on and consolidates the extensive work the College has undertaken over the years to empower its students and enable them to access high quality higher education."