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Highbury College

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Established  1963
Executive Director, Collegiate College  Deborah See
Executive Director, Finance & Corporate Services  Jonathan Cox
Total enrollment  27,192 (2011)
Principal & CEO  Stella Mbubaegbu CBE
Executive Director, Corporate College  Dee John
Phone  +44 23 9238 3131
Founded  1963
Highbury College

Type  General further education college
Address  Tudor Cres, Portsmouth PO6 2SA, UK
Motto  'To enable all our students to succeed'
Notable alumni  Isabel Hardman, Mark Austin, Max Foster, Chris Barfoot, Stephen Lee
Similar  South Downs College, Fareham College, Sparsholt College, University of Portsmouth, Basingstoke College of Technology

International guide to highbury college portsmouth accommodation and facilities

Highbury College is a general further education college in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. It provides vocational and academic education and training, from first-step courses to university level foundation degrees, A Levels, specialised services for business and education in the community.


The College is a member of the Collab Group of high-performing further-education institutions, and has achieved Training Quality Standard (TQS) accreditation Part A (whole College) with excellence in Building Services Engineering (Part B). Highbury currently occupies five centres. These are: Highbury Campus, Highbury City of Portsmouth Centre, Highbury Northarbour Centre, Highbury Arundel Centre and Highbury Apex Centre.

Highbury’s 2010/2011 student success rates make it the top-performing general further education College in the South East (10/11 National LR Success Rates published by The Data Service). The College was inspected by Ofsted in May 2011 and was judged to be Grade 1 Outstanding in all areas.

The College actively promotes lifelong learning and delivers a wide range of adult courses at more than 50 community venues in and around Portsmouth, as well as at Highbury College Centres. Highbury was judged to make an 'outstanding contribution to community cohesion' in its 2011 Ofsted report. The College is also a major provider of apprenticeship training in the South East and currently offers apprenticeships in more than 40 subject areas.

The College has undergone a major redevelopment of accommodation and facilities in recent years and recently completed a £56.4m building programme across the City of Portsmouth, culminating in the opening of the new Highbury Campus by HRH The Princess Royal in October 2009.

Highbury college ilws multicultural celebration

Areas of Learning

  • A Levels
  • Access to Higher Education
  • Animal Care
  • Art & Design
  • Automotive Studies,
  • Beauty & Holistic Therapies
  • Business, Admin & Financial Services
  • Computing
  • Construction & Built Environment
  • Early Years
  • Engineering
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Fashion
  • Floristry
  • GCSE, A Levels
  • Hairdressing
  • Health & Social Care
  • Hospitality & Catering
  • Independent Living & Work Skills
  • Marine Engineering
  • Media & Journalism
  • Music Technology
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Performing Arts & Theatre
  • Public Services
  • Retail & Visual Merchandising
  • Science
  • Sign Language & Lip Reading
  • Skills for Life, Sports Studies
  • Teacher Training, including Certificate in Education and CELTA
  • Travel & Tourism
  • The College also offers a range of university level courses:

  • Foundation Degree courses
  • Higher National Certificate & Higher National Diploma courses
  • Certificates in Further and Higher Education
  • Professional Vocational Qualifications
  • Highbury’s provision in Literacy, Numeracy & ESOL, Health & Social Care and Hair & Beauty was judged to be outstanding in the College’s most recent Ofsted report (2011).

    Highbury NCTJ Diploma in Journalism was recognised as the best-performing newspaper journalism fast-track course in the country for 2007/8. Former Highbury journalism students include political correspondent John Pienaar and Emmy Award winning ITV news presenter Mark Austin.

    Origins of Highbury College

    The history of Highbury College can be traced back to the Portsmouth and Gosport School of Science and the Arts, a privately funded organisation that was founded in 1870. The main function of the School was to equip the City’s future engineers and workers with the skills required in Portsmouth’s thriving docks and the Royal Navy Dockyard.

    In 1894 the School’s science and technology courses were brought under the control of the local authorities as the Borough of Portsmouth Municipal Technical Institute. The Institute had three main departments: Chemistry, Mathematics & Physics, and Civil & Mechanical Engineering. More than 1,300 students attended evening courses with only a small number of students attending during the day. By 1903 subjects taught included hygiene, biology, physiology, woodcarving, navigation, nautical astronomy and dressmaking.

    In 1908 the Institute was renamed the Portsmouth Municipal College, Within a few years the College was offering external degree courses recognised by the University of London. The Municipal College continued to grow until, in the 1930s, a separate institution was formed for teacher training. Similarly, in the 1950s Art & Design also became an independent unit.

    The Municipal College was designated a regional College by the Department of Education and Science in the 1950s and renamed the Portsmouth College of Technology.

    As a result of the continued rapid expansion of adult and technical education the Local Education Authority (LEA) decided to establish a branch college at Cosham, which provided convenient access for the people of Portsmouth and beyond. The main purpose of this was to enable the Portsmouth College of Technology to concentrate on courses at graduate and postgraduate level, which it has done ever since – initially as Portsmouth Polytechnic and more recently as the University of Portsmouth.

    Official Opening of Highbury College

    Highbury College was officially opened on 17 September 1963 as Highbury Technical College. Built at a cost of £590,700, the College was originally designed for a student population of 2,800, but 5,000 students enrolled in the first year.

    Overcrowding quickly became a problem and the College leased huts at Rugby Camp, Hilsea, for use as temporary classrooms. The huts had rudimentary facilities, and are soon referred to as the 'Army Camp' by students and staff alike.

    A full-time teaching staff of 78, plus part-time staff and visiting lecturers were responsible for delivering Highbury's courses. The College commenced with six Departments: Building & Surveying, Commerce & General Studies, Domestic Studies, Engineering, Mathematics & Science and Hotel & Catering.

    The College concentrated on vocational and non-degree level courses so that it would not compete with Portsmouth College of Technology, which later became the University of Portsmouth. In its first year the College offered courses at craft and technician levels, leading to full technological certificates awarded through the City & Guilds. In addition, students could study for O Levels and A Levels, as well as Ordinary National Certificates and Diplomas. Higher National Certificates (HNCs) in Building and Civil Engineering were offered part-time.

    One of the innovative features of the new College was its language laboratory – the first of its kind on the South Coast of England, which included soundproof cubicles and audio and visual equipment. The language laboratory was introduced with the Common Market in mind and was popular with local businesses wanting to train their staff as a result of increases in exports.

    A new block for science teaching was officially opened on 9 February 1966 by Reginald Prentice, then Minister of State for the Department of Education. At the same time student numbers were swelled by the opening of an Apprentice Training Centre.

    The Tower

    A major extension was completed in 1970, which included a 10-storey Tower.

    In 1970 responsibility for the Dockyard Technical College was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Local Education Authority, resulting in another 700 students for Highbury.

    Alongside the new accommodation, Highbury began the new decade with new modern teaching equipment, which included a radiological laboratory and a new digital computer. Pride of place, however, went to the College’s new Closed Circuit Television studio (CCTV), which included a broadcast news studio that was able to send programmes to 40 classrooms throughout the College, many of which were made by College staff.

    By 1971 the College had expanded to ten departments, with 324 full-time teaching staff. Most significantly, Portsmouth Technical College's Hotel & Catering Department was taken over by Highbury when the Technical College assumed polytechnic status.

    The Department's rapid growth necessitated the use of annexes around the City until H Block (pictured above), a new facility for Hotel & Catering courses, was opened in 1981. H Block was Britain’s biggest educational building project at that time and was officially opened on 9 October 1981 by Lord Romsey.

    In 1974 Highbury welcomed its first visitors from Friedrich Albert Lange Vocational College, Duisburg in Germany. The link between the two colleges has remained strong ever since, resulting in a number of beneficial activities including student and staff exchanges.

    Student numbers rose steadily over the decade and by 1976 student enrolment reached 10,000.

    In the late 1970s the College was approved by the Council for Academic Awards to offer degree courses jointly with Portsmouth Polytechnic, the first of which was a Degree in Hotel and Catering Studies. In recognition of this the College changed its name to Highbury College of Technology in 1978.

    Unicorn Training Centre

    In 1982 the former Naval Dockyard Apprentice Training Centre came under civilian management and, as the Unicorn Training Centre, began a transition to a multi-skills training centre for apprentices, school leavers and the unemployed. Highbury took over the new facility in 1983, using it to teach students and apprentices in construction and electrical/electronic trades.


    On 1 April 2005 Highbury left local Government control and, under Incorporation, responsibility for the operation of the College now lay with Highbury College Corporation, with members drawn from industry and commerce as well as academic and support staff, the Student Union President and the Principal & chief executive.

    In 2000 the completion of a £2.2m refurbishment project resulted in new library facilities and the re-cladding of College blocks and the Tower. The Library development included study areas and seminar rooms and was officially opened in 2001 by John Monks, then General Secretary of the TUC. Expansion and renovation In 2002 the College completed a major renovation that included the conversion of the top five floors of the Tower into student accommodation and five floors of refurbished teaching spaces below to include a digital media suite and computer centre.

    That same year also saw the official opening of Highbury Apex Centre, which now caters for 14- to 16-year-old school pupils, teaching them vocational skills such as bricklaying, plastering and decorating.

    Plans to expand the College's provision in the City Centre were also implemented with the lease of a building adjacent to an existing College site in Arundel Street. Named Highbury City Centre (later to be Highbury Arundel Centre), the facility now includes Eden, a training salon for Hair & Beauty students.

    Highbury Northarbour Centre

    Highbury Northarbour Centre opened in 2004. About 2,000 students signed up for courses in the first year, and today Highbury Northarbour Centre trains students in construction and the built environment, with dedicated workshops for each discipline and a specialist construction library.

    New beginnings

    In 2006 a new three-Colleges-in-one structure was introduced that anticipated national developments in Government priorities. The Collegiate, Corporate and Community Colleges organised the College's provision under three main umbrellas and were introduced so that the College could maintain a clear focus on the needs of its three main client groups: young people aged 14–19, employers and adult learners in the community.

    Highbury City of Portsmouth Centre (HCPC) opened in October 2007 following several years of careful planning. A major feature of the Centre was that training could take place in real-life working environments. Facilities at HCPC include industry-standard training kitchens and Chimes Fine Dining, an 80-seat training restaurant that is open to the public.

    Running in parallel with the development of HCPC was the redevelopment of Highbury Campus. State-of-the-art teaching and learning environments have replaced old and outdated buildings at the Cosham site, many of which dated back to the opening of the College in 1963.

    Marine Training Programmes

    Highbury College provides a range of vocational and academic programs in and around Portsmouth including Marine Apprenticeship, Boat Construction Maintenance, and Yacht Maintenance.


    Highbury College Wikipedia