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Fast Facts


Three campuses in Bury St Edmunds - West Suffolk College (Out Risbygate), The Milburn Campus (Anglian Lane) and the STEM Innovation Campus (Western Way).

Centres in Haverhill, Thetford, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, with courses also being taught in towns and villages across Suffolk including Clare, PakenhamThurston and Stowmarket.



Total number of staff = 786

  • 66% teaching staff
  • 34% business support

Total number of students = 12,937

4,747 under 19 and 8,190 aged 19+

  • 14-16: 34

  • Full-time: 3,278

  • Part-time: 3,996

  • Apprenticeships: 1,981

  • Employer Training: 1,261

  • Adult Education: 1,003

  • Higher Education: 812

  • Access to Higher Education: 216

  • Workplace Learning: 356

Apprenticeship Facts

✔️ We are currently training over 1700 Apprentices
✔️ We are currently supporting over 1000 employers
✔️ We offer over 65 Apprenticeship Programmes
✔️ The average salary for Apprentices paid by the employers we support is £189.96 per week, meaning our vacancies are paying £53.46 per week on average more than the National Minimum Wage for Apprenticeships
✔️ Our biggest area for growth is Engineering / Manufacturing and Childcare based on recruitment in 2018/19


“I have seen individuals blossom as they realise they can progress within the company and gain recognised academic qualifications. It has been a pleasure working alongside West Suffolk College.”

Ray Sinclair, Divisional Manager of Tradelink Direct Ltd

“Even though I didn’t go to university full-time, I have found another way of gaining a degree without paying an extortionate amount to do so.”

Kirsty Downes, Student

“Right from the very beginning, (College) staff helped me make the right choices and assisted with the funding to make the course affordable. They have been a key factor in my success.”

Paul Warmer, Senior Warehouse Operative at Franklin Fueling Systems Ltd

“I had a really big lack of confidence and I was worried about being back at College, but it was really good fun. The college helped me so much. I really owe everything to them, and the adviser at LEAP.”

Mature student Mel Clarke, who is dyslexic


West Suffolk College has evolved over more than 60 years from a small provider of evening classes for the people of Bury St Edmunds to an established, major player providing high quality Further and Higher education to the East Anglia region.



The College was shortlisted for two top awards by the Association of Colleges (AoC) that celebrate the best and most innovative practice among the UKs further education and sixth form colleges. Our nominations we in The Award for the Promotion and Delivery of Successful Apprenticeships and The Careers and Enterprise Company Careers Education and Guidance Award. Known as the Beacon Awards, 68 colleges entered this year and a shortlist was compiled before assessors visited the College.

College student Thomas Pawlowski, proved he is one of the most talented young decorators in the country by winning a gold medal at The Skills Show. Already the East’s regional champion when he went to the UK final in Birmingham competing alongside nearly 200 others in 55 different skills. The competition for students and young apprentices is organised by World Skills UK and eighteen year old Thomas’s gold means that he is now on course to meet the best in Europe in Budapest next year then skilled young painters and decorators from across the world at the World Skills final in Russia in 2019.


The College showcased its Animal Centre at its first public open event. The day had a theme of Care of Exotics was filled with fun and information on how to keep and look after all exotic pets. It was the first time the Centre had been open to members of the public.


The name of the new Sixth Form College to be built in Bury St Edmunds was revealed as Abbeygate Sixth Form College. The name was determined by a public survey and through consultation with pupils from King Edward VI School, Newmarket Academy, Stour Valley Community School and Sybil Andrews Academy. 


Our wonderful Health & Social Care Lecturer, Colette Burgess was crowned the winner of the Outstanding BTEC Teacher of the Year 2017 at the national BTEC Awards.


The College was the overall winner of Educational Setting of the Year at the Raising the Bar Awards which celebrates and recognise excellence across Suffolk’s education; and our student Emma Walker won the Young Achiever of the Year award. The college’s award as Educational Setting of the Year was a recognition of all the hard work our wonderful staff have been doing and continue to do with their students, ensuring they achieve their highest grade possible.


The College launched its first WestandLoud car and motorcycle show. The event was attended by over 400 people who enjoyed looking at around 130 cars and bikes as well as stalls, a bouncy castle, nail bar and archery. The event raised £1,000, which went to SARS.


The College was named as a finalist in the prestigious Apprenticeships4England annual awards.



West Suffolk College won its own ‘Oscar’ from the educational world for an innovative project combining maths, Art, Religion and Science, known as MARS. The judges in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) FE Awards unanimously agreed that the “completely amazing” College project “leaped out” and awarded it the Best Teaching and Learning Initiative. With a mention in Prime Ministers Question Time by the PM who said: ‘all colleges across the coutnry should be aspiring to reach these standards.’


The College received a visit from the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Robert Halfon who says he was “inspired” when he visited West Suffolk College. The Minister toured the College meeting Apprentices and staff in many different departments on his fact finding visit.

A major plan to build a new world-class sixth form college in Bury St Edmunds was given the green light by the Department for Education. In March this year the Suffolk Academies Trust (a unique collaboration between West Suffolk College and Suffolk One), supported by King Edward VI School and Samuel Ward Academy Trust, submitted an application to the Department of Education to open a new multi-million pound sixth form college for West Suffolk. 

West Suffolk College revealed that it is in the top five per cent of colleges in the country for its achievement rates in Level 3 Vocational Diplomas – the equivalent of three A levels when it comes to University entry –making it the best in the Eastern Region.



Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce opens their office at the College, building bridges between education and the business community.

Proposal for the world class A level Sixth Form Centre for West Suffolk College is announced.

The College received a glowing report following a visit from Ofsted. The College was rated as ‘Good’ under the new, rigorous inspection regime.


Heritage of Engineering Excellence in West Suffolk continues as plans fr a new Engineering & Innovation Centre of Excellence is announced.


Gateway building officially opened by Lord Tollemache, HM Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk

Refurbishment and rebranding of Zest to Edmunds and our Performing Arts area to Conservatoire EAST

IP City, Ipswich opened and Develop Anglia brand launched


February 2013: A Topping Out ceremony for the new Further Education building takes place at the end of February. There are around 35 invited guests, including College governors and representatives from the contractors ISG and architects Pick Everard.

March 2013: The appointment of Dr Nikos Savvas as the new Principal is announced.

May 2013: 'The Gateway' is approved by Governors as the name for the new Further Education building. Proposed by Governor Alan Maltpress, the name reflects the ‘town gate’ heritage names within Bury St Edmunds.

June 2013: Queen’s Birthday Honours List - it is announced that College Governor Alan Gordon-Stables has been awarded an MBE.

August 2013: It is announced that the College has successfully bid for a £2.89 million grant from the Government’s College Capital Investment Fund towards the cost of a new state-of-the-art centre for science, technology, engineering and maths.

September 2013: Phil Thirkettle, Vice Principal Curriculum and Quality, retires after 27 years at the College.

Lindsey Johnson is appointed as the new Vice Principal - Curriculum and Quality.

Others retiring at the end of the academic year 2012/13:

Dennis Stevens, Programme Leader Higher Education Business Management, after 30 years, having joined the College as a part-time lecturer in September 1983.

Elizabeth Bray, Head of Low Carbon Business Development, after 32 years at the College in various roles.

Janis Cleveland, Hairdressing Lecturer after 19 years, having joined the College in September 1993.

Graham Allum, Lecturer in Foundation Studies, who joined the College in September 2002 as a Drama teacher, later moving to the School of Foundation studies.

September 2013: The new Gateway building is open to students at the start of the Autumn term.

Work on Suffolk House is also been completed. Suffolk House is now a dedicated centre of UCS Bury St Edmunds, and the building is rebranded with UCS livery.

More than 900 people attend the fifth UCS Bury St Edmunds Graduation Ceremony. An Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University is awarded to Henry Olonga, the first black player to represent Zimbabwe at Test cricket and a noted campaigner for democracy in the country.

Governor, Alan Gordon-Stables awarded an MBE for Services to Further Education.


Dr Ann Williams, Principal, visits Buckingham Palace in January to collect her OBE for services to Further Education, awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The award is presented by HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

The Milburn Centre officially opened in May 2012, creating a centre for Construction and Building Services training with a focus on Sustainability and Low Carbon Energy techniques. The Milburn Centre provides improved facilities for students as well as a huge opportunity to expand the College's work with employers to deliver training in sustainable technologies as well as traditional courses.

Work on the new Further Education building starts in May 2012, with completion scheduled for June 2013. Phase 2 of the Higher Education Refurbishment (Suffolk House and CoVE) also starts in May with work on the west, north and eastern elevations of Suffolk House, to include new windows, solar shading and cladding to the remainder of the building to match the front elevation.

The West Suffolk College team carries away the top fundraiser title as well as coming second in the first ever It’s A Bury Knock-Out competition in July. Teams have to raise at least £500 each towards a fundraising target of £15,000. The College team raises the most money, bringing in £649. The total raised is split between upgrading cancer diagnostic equipment at West Suffolk Hospital and the charity Sport Rwanda.

The Bury Society presents an architectural award to the College for its contribution to enhancing the environment through the new frontage of the College’s main building, Suffolk House. The award is presented at the Bury Society’s Annual General Meeting at the Athenaeum on May 29,


The biggest ever UCS Bury St Edmunds Graduation Ceremony takes place at the end of September. This is the fourth Graduation Ceremony since West Suffolk College becomes a partner of University Campus Suffolk as UCS Bury St Edmunds. Dame Stephanie Shirley DBE is awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University.

Dr Ann Williams, Principal, announces in December that she will be retiring in September 2013.

Matthew Hancock MP for West Suffolk visits the College in December, accompanied by former Education Minister Lord Adonis. The pair meet and talk with College Principal Dr Ann Williams, Chair of Governors Richard Carter and Vice Principal Martyn Wagner before taking a tour of the College and meeting apprentices.

The Board of Governors welcomes four new members in December: Maggie Symonds, Alan Maltpress, Steve Clarke and FE Student Governor Jack Biscoe.


A launch event for the School of Participation takes place in February. The new facilities in Edmund House provide a safe and inspiring environment for young people.

Work starts in March 2011 to refurbish the former CML building and create The Milburn Centre. Major works are completed during the summer and the students start to use the centre in September 2011.

David Ruffley MP is the guest of honour at the official launch of the newly refurbished Edmund House and the Inspire Theatre at the College in May.

Dr Ann Williams, Principal, is awarded an OBE for services to Further Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Having already worked at the College for over twenty years when she took over as Principal in 2002, the College now grows exponentially and builds an excellent reputation as one of the best, and most responsive, in the region.

September: For the first time, more than 1500 fresher students at West Suffolk College are given their induction in one day, instead of spreading the process over one week. West Suffolk College hires the Apex in Bury St Edmunds to carry out a series of talks and a display of all the support services and extra-curricular activities the College offers.

Rugby and football players from the College’s Sports Academy have the honour of joining a group of around 100 volunteer cyclists from various local organisations in leading off Stage 7 of the Tour of Britain 2010 which started from Bury St Edmunds on Friday 17 October.

Suffolk House is revealed as the new focus of the delivery of university level teaching through UCS Bury St Edmunds, with an official unveiling in November 2011. Suffolk House, which dates back to the 1960s, has been the public face of West Suffolk College for many years. The building is given an imposing facelift, and much of the interior is remodelled.


OfSTED Inspectors who visited the College in May judged it Outstanding in many areas. The overall grade awarded was Good with many Outstanding features

The course formerly known as STEPS is rebranded as Springboard, still working with 16 to 19 year olds with learning difficulties and disabilities

Contracts are exchanged on the premises of CML Innovative Technologies in Beetons Way in September, with the official handover in October. A £1m pound refurbishment should be completed by the end of May 2011

BBC Blast 'Creative Village' comes to the College in June, giving students a first-hand chance to find out about working in the creative industries, meet industry professionals, learn new skills and use the latest technology

Betty Milburn, Chair of Governors, goes to Buckingham Palace to receive the MBE, bestowed on her in the 2010 New Year Honours list in recognition of her services to Further Education and to the community in Suffolk.

Building work is carried out to refurbish Edmund House, the oldest of the buildings on the Bury St Edmunds campus. Work starts during the summer of 2010

An Honorary degree of Doctor of the University is awarded to Betty Milburn MBE, a long-standing supporter of the College and former Chairman of Governors, at the UCS Bury St Edmunds Graduation Ceremony at the end of September.


Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, visits the College in December 2009 to celebrate and recognise the College's achievement in gaining the TQS in seven areas of provision.

A £58 million grant is offered by the LSC (Learning & Skills Council) towards an £80 million building programme which would have transformed the Bury St Edmunds campus. The grant is subseqently withdrawn after the LSC is found to have exceeded its budget.


The WSC Educational Opportunity Trust, an independent charity making financial grants to students and former students, is founded in December 2008 following offers of donations from local employers and former students.

The College is one of only two providers in the East region to be awarded the new Training Quality Standard (TQS) and one of only four organisations across the country to have the TQS in two vocational areas at the inital launch in May.

The College launches three Learning and Enterprise Access Point (LEAP) Centres in Stowmarket, Mildenhall and Haverhill.

Leonardo House, the Arts and Sciences building on the Bury St Edmunds campus, Bury St Edmunds is officially opened in June 2008 by Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The College celebrates 15 years as an independent corporation in April 2008.


The College is named as one of the Top 100 Large and Medium sized companies in the Sunday Times 'Best Companies to Work For' 2007 list.

Chris Banks, Chairman of the Learning & Skills Council nationally, visits the College in January 2007 to celebrate the fact that the College has been awarded Beacon status in recognition of excellence and innovation within the Learning and Skills sector.


When OfSTED inspectors visit the College in May, they award the highest accolade - Grade 1: Outstanding - across the board in five areas being inspected. These are: Effectiveness of provision, Capacity to improve, Achievements and standards, Quality of provision, Leadership and management.


Refurbishment of central administration offices

Production kitchen refurbishment.

Upgrade to heating systems to improve environmental impact

DDA improvements across the campus

Creation of Early Years CoVE Centre

Demolition works to prepare site for new building - Leonardo House for Arts and Sciences.


Build the Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) suite for Management & Professional Studies.

Expanded Anglian Lane facilities.

Converted the top floor of Suffolk House into a Computing Suite.


Opening of New Minden House (for Foundation and STEPS students with learning disabilities).

Relocation of the Children's Centre into the Sunshine Nursery.

E0.45 Theatre Company is moved to Burma House.

The In Vogue hairdressing salon is totally redesigned to create the most up to date and impressive training salon in the country.

A new centre for carpentry, plumbing and electrical installation students is created on premises in Anglian Lane.


Phase 1 of the new building programme Gibraltar House (for Humanities, Health & Social Care) is opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester.


The new Learning Centre and Library complex, Mechatronics Centre, Students' Common Room and Drama Studio are completed.


Australia House and the Construction Centre are extended.


Australia House phase 2 (for catering studies) is opened.


Minden House (purpose built accommodation for students with learning difficulties and disabilities) is built.


Australia House phase 1 (for Hairdressing and Beauty training) is opened.


The Motor Vehicle Training Centre is built.


The Construction Training Centre is opened.


The Engineering Training Centre is built.


Suffolk House for Business and Management Studies is opened.


The College is officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk on 29 May 1961.


The decision to build a new purpose built College on its own ground is taken and the Gibraltar Barracks site is chosen.


The Bury St Edmunds Technical Institute opened its new site in the grounds of the Silver Jubilee School offering Engineering, Building and vocational evening classes.