NESCol supports regional focus on life sciences and biotechnology

July 12, 2021

A drive to attract new talent to the life sciences and biotechnology sectors is gathering pace as ambitious plans to make Aberdeen a global hub take shape.

North East Scotland College is recruiting for courses across a range of disciplines in preparation for the 2021/22 session.

An HND course in Industrial Biotechnology has been introduced in recognition of the anticipated growth in the field, with the initial cohort of students having completed their first year.

An intensive Medical and Life Sciences SWAP programme, designed to prepare adults returning to education for further studies, is also open for applications as efforts to meet the future needs of employers in the region are intensified.

The College is shaping its curriculum to support its objectives of the Regional Economic Strategy, which has diversification at its core, and to respond to wider developments in the North East.

The construction of the £40million BioHub at the Foresterhill Health Campus is one of the main components of the expansion in the sector. The ambitious project is being led by Opportunity North East as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal and is due to be operational by autumn next year.

The aim is to make Aberdeen one of the most dynamic locations in the UK for life sciences company creation and growth. The hub will provide laboratory, incubation and collaboration space, custom accommodation, business support programmes, and access to expert networks and investors.

Dr Douglas Fraser, NESCol’s Curriculum Manager for Science, said: “The BioHub is a symbol of the spirit of innovation in life sciences and biotechnology in the region. There are incredibly exciting opportunities coming down the line, with new career paths opening up and the chance to be part of a long term vision.

“It is vital the knowledge and skills that will be so crucial to the growth in the sector are nurtured. The College works closely with our university partners to develop pathways that respond to the needs of industry and the expansion of our course provision reflects that collaborative approach.

“The introduction of the Biotechnology options represents a natural progression for NESCol, building on the popularity of our wider science offer, and we look forward to seeing that grow and evolve.”

The HND course has been developed by SQA in cooperation with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBIOIC) to meet the needs of employers for technical level biotechnologists. The courses provide students with underpinning science and laboratory skills for employment in the rapidly developing field.

The programme includes microbiology, cell culturing, DNA molecular techniques, biotechnology processing, chemical engineering, biochemical techniques and human metabolism. Units in chemistry, biology, maths and lab skills for science industries also feature, alongside a major laboratory based project in biotechnology.

For those looking for a stepping stone to the HND course, a Forensic Science and Biotechnology option at Level 6 serves as an entry route.

The Medical and Life Sciences course is part of the Scottish Widening Access Programme (SWAP), which supports access to higher education for adult learners. SWAP access courses are a proven route to degree level studies and are specifically designed for adults returning to education after a gap.

As well as providing a sound grounding in the theoretical basis of medical and life sciences, the NESCol course contains a significant amount of practical activity linked to local industry and topical issues. Students acquire a broad base of laboratory knowledge and expertise.

Applications for the 2021/22 session remain open. Visit for further information.