A chorus of congratulation as VIP visitor cuts the ribbon at new-look Hitchin college campus

Marquess of Salisbury cuts the ribbon to officially open North Herts College's new-look Hitchin camp

Marquess of Salisbury cuts the ribbon to officially open North Herts College's new-look Hitchin campus, March 2015 - Credit: Archant

Young singers serenade guests as North Herts College’s new principal showcases facilities

This is not just a college - it’s a community hub. That was the message as the Marquess of Salisbury officially declared open Hitchin’s newest landmark.

The soaring roof of North Herts College’s Cambridge Road campus has already become a familiar feature of the Walsworth skyline, and students and visitors have already had time to get used to the wide open spaces of the central atrium area and the clean and airy modern design.

This morning guests representing North Herts businesses, local authorities and other public bodies were on hand as new principal Matt Hamnett - just 10 days into the job - invited the man whose home is Hatfield House to do the honours.

The marquess, who is also chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, was full of praise for the new facilities and the college’s focus on equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in the wider world.

The university, he said, was determined to liaise more closely with local colleges, as well as other institutions both at home and abroad, to cement its standing as a leading ‘business-facing’ provider, adapting to modern methods of teaching and learning and making the best use of advances in technology.

That includes closer links with the North Herts campuses, he said.

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“The college is so dynamic, and clearly going places,” he said. “This relationship is going to grow and prosper, with a flow of students going in both directions, making sure that opportunities are maximised.”

He cut a red ribbon to complete the official opening after a song from the college’s performance choir.

Mr Hamnett, who shared hosting duties with accountancy apprentice Jordan Hutchins, who was completing a job-share week with the new principal as part of National Apprentice Week, invited guests to cast their eyes around the new facility and said: “It looks like this for a reason.

“We are preparing students for the reality of the world of work, and giving them the tools they need.

“They will be learning through projects, not through Victorian ‘chalk and talk’ methods.

“We are here to support students of all ages and at all levels, to work with businesses in the area and support them, and to be at the centre of the community. We are keen to find ways in which we can make the best use of this vibrant asset.”

In recent weeks the building has already played host to the chairman of North Herts District Council’s civic reception and a peace conference hosted by a Stevenage Muslim group, and other community uses are being explored.