The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 29 June 2007

Ayr College takes the lead

AYR College has developed an innovative new way to attract international business by offering “Study at Home Programmes” to Indian students. The programme is run in partnership with the Canadian Institute of International Studies, and offers students a low-cost way to study foundation courses in preparation for entering HNC level at Ayr College, as well as specialised vocational training.

Picture shows: John Muir, Director of Community Service Industries, Ayr College.

International students provide vital revenue for many of Scotland’s colleges and the competition to attract them is growing – not just in Scotland but internationally. In particular, Indian students are a key target market as many students are left with no option but to gain their qualifications overseas due to the dense population and over-subscribed education system in their home country. Scotland’s colleges are competing against other countries such as America, Australia and Canada for their business and it’s vital they attract them.

John Muir, Director of Community Service Industries, visited six cities across the Punjab over a period of seven days. John commented: “The visit was mainly about promoting our foundation courses in Engineering, Fashion and Design and Creative Studies – and this generated a lot of media interest in each location. Indian colleagues and I saw approximately 200 prospective Indian students, and I was consistently impressed by the dedication and seriousness with which these students approached their study plans.”

As for the country itself, this is the third visit John has made over the past year. He said: “India is a country of extremes. Most people live in villages, although there is also a growing population of more affluent professionals. Things are improving gradually for most people, and the opportunities for international study will not only bring benefit to individuals, but to the Indian economy as a whole”.

Wendy McFarland, International Officer at Ayr College and Project Manager of the Study at Home Programmes, said: “Our programme is essentially a very focussed marketing strategy that concentrates on delivering a quality product that meets our customer’s needs. We have deliberately avoided the short term, high-cost, low-impact international marketing strategies that other institutions have gone for, and we are reaping the benefits.

“In the future we intend to expand our provision of these foundation courses and we also hope to launch a sponsorship model that encourages UK firms to sponsor the education programmes for international students, through either financial support or by providing a paid work opportunity. There are so many options out there for taking this model forward, and Ayr College is leading the way.”

Businesses wishing to participate in the proposed new sponsorship programme should contact Wendy McFarland on 01292 293457 or email:
To find out more about Ayr College’s international programmes go to

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Ayrshire man lands top finance job

SPECIALIST mortgage lending company Money Partners has announced the appointment of Ayrshire man Brian Ferguson (40) to the new position of regional account manager for Scotland.

Born in Irvine, Brian lived in New Cumnock until the age of 19. He moved to Edinburgh briefly at the start of his career, but returned and has lived in or near Ayr for the past 20 years.

He is married with one daughter.

Brian will take immediate responsibility for developing intermediary relationships and for promoting the specialist lender’s range of mortgage products across Scotland.

Brian joins Money Partners with extensive experience and knowledge gained from his 13 years in the finance industry. He has spent the last seven years with Standard Life Bank in a range of roles including regional manager covering central and west England, national sales manager, and head of distribution strategy.

Prior to that he worked as part of the team at Capital Bank, the commercial assets finance arm of Bank of Scotland for three and a half years.

Brian said: “I’m excited about being given the opportunity to take forward Money Partners in Scotland, and about opening up this important and vibrant market to our competitive range of mortgages. My focus is to get out from my base in Ayr and into the intermediary community to raise our profile and explain how we can add tangible value to brokers by offering great products and an unrivalled level of support.”