10 Years of North East Scotland College

Ten years on from the merger of Aberdeen College and Banff and Buchan College, we’re celebrating a decade of NESCol success.


The merger of Aberdeen College and Banff and Buchan College in 2013 created one of the largest providers of vocational education and training in Scotland.

Since then we have gone from strength to strength, an award-winning provider of education and training and an employer committed to helping its people thrive. Our role as a partner of choice has also grown and evolved, with the College at the heart of so many ground-breaking collaborations. Hundreds of thousands of students have benefited from the nurturing, inclusive and engaging environment we have worked so hard to foster. Lives have been changed beyond measure thanks to the care and compassion of our teams.

In turn those individuals, equipped with new skills and knowledge, have been part of a contribution to the regional economy that runs into hundreds of millions of pounds. We share enormous pride in what we have achieved as a College community.

Open Day

The Winter Open Day on 2 December at NESCol’s City, Altens and Fraserburgh campuses will double as an opportunity for former students and staff to revisit familiar surroundings.

Register for our Open Day

NESCol: An evolutionary tale

Download a copy of the commemorative booklet produced in 2013 for the merger of Aberdeen College and Banff and Buchan College.

Download NESCol: An evolutionary tale


Early History

NESCol is a vibrant new college – built on the history and heritage of two renowned institutions.

The origins of Banff and Buchan College go back to 1936 when vocational evening classes in Fraserburgh were affiliated to the then Robert Gordon’s Technical College.

The origins of Aberdeen College lie in three separate institutions: Aberdeen Technical College, Aberdeen College of Commerce, and Clinterty Agricultural College.

1950s and 1960s

Aberdeen Technical College

The evening and day release classes in Aberdeen were initially separate but merged in 1955 to create Aberdeen Trades College, which later became Aberdeen Technical College.

The college’s rapid growth led to the construction of a new building on the Gallowgate, with full occupation by 1964.

Aberdeen Commercial College

In 1959, Aberdeen Commercial College was established to centralise commercial education offerings in the city.

The college expanded rapidly, and plans were made for a single-site college. The construction of the new Aberdeen College of Commerce began in February 1964 on the old Holburn School site.

Banff and Buchan area

Aberdeenshire Education Committee decided to establish a full-time further education centre in Fraserburgh in 1966. Following rapid growth, they later decided to create a new, custom-built regional college to serve the further education and training needs of various industries in the Banff and Buchan area.

Clinterty Agricultural College

Agricultural education became a focus during the expansion of further education in the North East. This led to the establishment of Clinterty Agricultural College, with the first full-time course starting in 1969/70 using facilities in Bucksburn Old School and lodgings in Aberdeen.

1970s and 1980s

Aberdeen Technical College

Aberdeen Technical College expanded its course offerings and underwent building extensions to accommodate the growing demand. The Shell Expro Technician Training Scheme was initiated in 1983, providing unique training programmes for the Oil and Gas Industry. An offshore dynamic positioning training facility and semisubmersible rig was introduced for training in 1985 and 1987 respectively.

Aberdeen Commercial College

Aberdeen College of Commerce experienced increased enrolment and celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1984. Structural issues in its Holburn Street building in 1987 led to relocation at various premises.

Banff and Buchan College

Buchan Technical College in Fraserburgh was officially opened in 1973. It was also renamed Banff and Buchan College of Further Education in 1982 to better reflect its catchment area and course offerings.

Clinterty Agricultural College

Clinterty Agricultural College, offering agricultural education, opened its modern facilities in 1976.


Aberdeen College

In 1991, three colleges — Aberdeen Technical College, Aberdeen College of Commerce, and Clinterty Agricultural College — amalgamated into a single institution, forming Aberdeen College of Further Education.

In April 1993, Aberdeen College of Further Education, later renamed Aberdeen College, and Banff and Buchan College became incorporated colleges, gaining independence from Grampian Regional Council.

Aberdeen College achieved various milestones in the 1990s, including the launch of the EX Training facility, winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, and becoming the first Scottish Further and Higher Education College to be awarded the Charter Mark.

Banff and Buchan College

Banff and Buchan College introduced a Client Services Section, opened a Flexible Learning Centre, and received recognition as an Investor In People in the 1990s.

The 21st Century

Banff and Buchan College


Banff and Buchan College received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education.


In 2000 the college signed its first articulation agreement with Robert Gordon University, offering progression routes for HNC and HND students.

Facilities and Delivery

In 2003, Banff and Buchan College diversified by appointing an International Student Officer and establishing the commercial unit, bSolutions, to provide specialised short courses and services for industry.

The “2012 Project” comprehensively remodelled Banff and Buchan College, creating a modern and flexible learning environment.

The college became known for providing fishing and maritime training, particularly through the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead, officially opened in 2012.

In 2013, as part of the Oil and Gas Academy, a Welding Centre of Excellence was inaugurated at Banff and Buchan College to increase the training capacity for welders.

Aberdeen College


In 2001, Aberdeen College received the Charter Mark for the third time, making it the only Scottish college with this honour.

Aberdeen College received the People Development Award from Investor in People in 2006 for achieving the highest audit score in Scotland.

In 2010, Aberdeen College was awarded one of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Further and Higher Education.


Aberdeen College and Robert Gordon University established a Degree Link Partnership in 2003, allowing students who complete a Degree Link Course at Aberdeen College to enter the third year of an RGU degree. In 2007, the two institutions formed a formal alliance, with Aberdeen College becoming an Associate College of the University.

Facilities and Delivery

Various facilities were expanded and opened in the mid-2000s, including a sports hall, computer suite, library, automotive laboratory, and a Small Animal Care Unit. The year 2011 marked the opening of new facilities, including a Construction Training Facility and a refurbished centre for Music and the Performing Arts.

In 2012, the ASET International Oil and Gas Training Academy was inaugurated at the Altens Centre.

The Merger

North East Scotland College

In 2011, the two colleges signed a Federation Agreement to collaborate and expand learning opportunities in the North East and optimise resources. In 2012, following a government recommendation for changes in college governance, the colleges unanimously decided to create a single college for the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire region.

The new college, named North East Scotland College, was established in November 2013, reflecting its geographical service area and being a popular choice among staff and stakeholders.


NESCol aims to cap its anniversary month with the latest in a long list of accolades, having been nominated in three categories of the CDN College Awards 2023. The winners will be announced on 30 November.

The Employer Connections Award nomination celebrates collaboration with P&J Live, the Skills Development Award nomination recognises partnership working with Aberdeen City Council and, in the Student of the Year Award, the contribution of Zoey Filianore Wynters to equality and diversity has won a place on the shortlist.

At last year’s ceremony NESCol was crowned winner in the Employer Connections category, in recognition of the long-standing collaboration with industry partner Shell.

In 2021 NESCol was successful in the Green Gown Awards, earning the Next Generation Learning and Skills prize for sustainability in colleges and universities in the UK and Ireland.

Those are the latest triumphs for an institution which has quickly established a reputation for excellence.



Collaboration is at the heart of everything NESCol does. From the award winning and nominated partnerships mentioned above, to the daily work with more than 1,200 employers and third sector organisations across the region as well as the close bond with the North East’s primary and secondary schools.

There is a significant focus on leading the skills revolution at the heart of energy transition as the opportunities underpinning the region’s economic strategy are embraced. NESCol is an active member of the Energy Skills Partnership (ESP) and the National Energy Skills Accelerator (NESA). The College has also partnered with the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and the Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) as part of the commitment to expanding net zero training in the region.

The partnership between the College and Shell, one of the region’s largest employers, is an example of collaboration in action.  To date more than £5million has been invested by the business in a range of sponsored programmes.

This has included the introduction of the Shell Girls in Energy Programme, designed specifically to address gender imbalance in an industry which has traditionally been male dominated. More than 1,300 pupils have taken part.


Facilities and Delivery

NESCol delivers to more than 20,000 full-time, part-time and distance learning students each year. The College, with a turnover in excess of £50 million, employs around 850 staff and operates from its main Aberdeen Altens, Aberdeen City and Fraserburgh campuses as well as the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead.

There has been significant investment in those facilities over the past decade.

The City Campus, which reaches its 60 year milestone in 2013, has been trasnformed inside and outside to create a modern and engaging learning environment. The distinctive exterior remodelling, a landmark on the Aberdeen skyline, is symbolic of that change.

At Fraserburgh, investment of £500,000 by a local benefactor has led to the creation of the Future Skills Zone and Future Skills Workshop to enable students to prepare for exciting new careers. An Esports arena is also in development.

Altens Campus also evolves at pace. A new Energy Transition Skills Hub is due to open in summer 2024 on land adjacent to the existing facilities. The hub is supported by Scottish Government Just Transition Funding of £4.5m over two years, project lead ETZ Ltd is contributing  £800,000 and Shell UK is investing £1.8m.

The Future

As we reflect on the first 10 years of NESCol, it is also a time to look to the future. There are great opportunities on the horizon and the experience we have built will stand us in good stead as we forge ahead with those plans.