On this month: March 1992 Craigie College and Paisley College merge

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30 years ago at a press conference in March 1992, just weeks before university status was achieved, Principal Richard Shaw of Paisley College of Technology and Principal Gordon Wilson of Craigie College of Education announced a merger between their two Colleges under the name of the University of Paisley, with Craigie as the Faculty of Education.

Craigie College of Education had opened its doors as an all-female college, training primary education teachers on the 1st of October 1964. Work had begun only in February of the same year on the new campus in the former Craigie Estate in Ayr, such was the need to train primary teachers in Scotland.

Craigie College students enrolling in October 1964

The new College campus sat alongside the eighteenth century mansion Craigie House, had halls of residence, playing fields and superb educational and professional facilities including two gyms, a hall/theatre and library.

By 1992 the College had 500 students, male and female, and was delivering secondary education and professional development to teachers as part of its portfolio. The merger was seen as giving new purpose as well as making the new university a two-campus institution. Three years later in 1995, ‘Craigie’ as it was still known to many students, had over 1,200 students and had become a multi-disciplinary campus developing programmes in media and music.

Paralympian and teacher Aileen Neilson who received a Honorary Doctorate from UWS in 2018 was one of the students who started at Craigie College and finished at the new University of Paisley.

Talking about her time at Craigie and on receiving the honorary award Dr Aileen Neilson said: “I graduated in 1993 and was following my dream of teaching youngsters. I have been so lucky to have firstly had my teaching career which I thoroughly enjoyed for 17 years and am now continuing on my sporting journey. Neither would have been possible without the support of so many people – from lecturers at Craigie College during my teacher training to the staff of various sporting organisations and all my family and friends.”

In 2009 the need for a new facility was apparent, with work starting later that year on a new 18,000m2 UWS Ayr Campus.

Ayr Campus topping out 2010

Opened in August 2011, the new £81 million Ayr Campus was developed in partnership with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and in consultation with Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

The campus design was inspired by the area’s woodland surroundings, incorporates Craigie House and offers modern, stylish en-suite accommodation that houses 200 students. 

With 2,420 students, it provides Ayrshire with one of the UK’s most modern, environmentally friendly and sustainable higher education learning facilities. Courses are offered in the creative industries, health care, journalism, music and performance.

Education continues to be delivered on the Ayr Campus and is recognised as one of the very best providers of Education degrees in Scotland and the UK, and have consistently ranked within the top five providers of ‘Education’ as a subject in the UK.

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