Borders College Regional Board

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Borders College is located in the Scottish Borders with over 5000 students studying courses from National Qualifications through to Higher Nationals in a broad range of subjects. The Scottish Borders is a great place to work, study and live. Renowned for its natural beauty and its varied and interesting heritage, it offers excellent recreational and cultural activities and an outstanding quality of life. The main College campus is in Galashiels and was purpose built and designed to be shared with the School of Textiles and Design of Heriot-Watt University with whom we enjoy a strong and effective partnership. The campus is situated close to the town centre with good access routes and transport links to Edinburgh. We also have  campus at Newtown St. Boswells,  Tweedbank and Hawick.

The College is proud of its record of learner success and consistently achieves some of the best outcomes in Scotland. For us rural doesn’t mean relaxed and we are ambitious for our learners, our businesses and our region. We’re investing in a new ICT infrastructure to support the use of Technology Enhanced Learning which is at the heart of our curriculum delivery strategy. We enjoy excellent relationships with the regions businesses who are key to ensuring that our curriculum responds to their needs, which is why we are currently investing in new engineering facilities.

Borders College was formed in 1984 by the amalgamation of Galashiels Technical College, Henderson Technical College (Hawick), Duns Agricultural Centre and the Agricultural Centre, Newtown St. Boswells. On April 1st 1993 under the Further Education (Scotland) Act 1992, the College was transferred from the Borders Regional Council to a Body Corporate.

The College is one several regional colleges in Scotland and is governed by a Regional Board. The College is funded primarily by the Scottish Funding Council on behalf of the Scottish Government.


Click on the links below to see the various Regional Board Committees for Borders College. 
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The Finance and Resources Committee oversees the College’s financial affairs and gives initial consideration to any business of strategic financial significance on behalf of the Board. Examples might include estates acquisitions and disposals, major IT infrastructure and curriculum delivery projects, implications of changes in public funding, and the financial implications of possible divergence from the strategic plan. The Committee monitors strategic resource planning, recommends the annual budget to the Board and monitors performance through its review of a suite of financial reports including KPIs at each meeting.  Up to December 2022 the Committee was called the Finance and General Purposes Committee.


Meeting Papers

Approved Minutes

Legislation requires that the Regional Board should comprise between 15 and 20 Members. All non-executive Board member appointments and the appointment of Board Chair are approved by Scottish Government. The Regional Board shall include a Chair, the Principal of the College, two elected staff members (one teaching, one non-teaching), two trade union Members (one from a teaching trade union and one from a support staff trade union) and two student members. Ideally Board membership should include individuals with experience from within industrial, commercial, employment sectors and have a good working knowledge of the Scottish Borders and its needs. Tenure is for a period of up to four years, extendable on approval Scottish Government.


Meeting Papers

Approved Minutes

The Remuneration Committee determines and reviews the salaries, terms and conditions and pension arrangements for the Principal and other Senior Management.  The Committee also considers any proposed severance packages for all staff and approves these prior to submission to the Scottish Funding Council for approval prior to reporting to the full Board.

The Committee is made up of four members.


Meeting PapersApproved Minutes


Published reports relevant to the Sector


Links to general resources relating to all Board activity

Links to resources particularly useful to Committees

Audit Committee

Curriculum and Quality Committee

Finance and General Purposes Committee

Nominations Committee

Remuneration Committee

Links to relevant organisations

Click on this link to open the meeting schedule.


Regional Board – Membership

Ray McCowan – Chair
Pete Smith – College Principal
Dave Roberts – Vice Chair
Vernice Key – Senior Independent Member
Paul Cathrow
Carol Gillie
Phil Macdonald
Bernie Quinn
Ugo Mbaezue
Nick Sparks
Lindsey Hastie
Douglas Ormston
Andy Buckenham – Teaching Staff Member
Chris Alder – Student Member
Micah Hall – Student Member
Vacant – Support Staff Union Member
Jessica Elder – Support Staff Member
Ingrid Earp – Governance Adviser/Board Secretary

Committee Membership (all)

Finance and Resources Committee (Quorum 3)
  • Bernie Quinn (Chair)
  • Ugo Mbaezue
  • Vernice Key
  • Pete Smith
  • Ray McCowan
  • Vacancy
Audit and Risk Committee (Quorum 3)
  • Carol Gillie (Chair)
  • Phil Macdonald
  • Dave Roberts
  • Lindsey Hastie
  • Micah Hall
  • Support Staff Member
Nominations Committee (Quorum 3)
  • Ray McCowan (Chair)
  • Bernie Quinn
  • Carol Gillie
  • Dave Roberts
Curriculum, Quality and Student Experience Committee (Quorum 3)
  • Paul Cathrow (Chair)
  • Pete Smith (Principal)
  • Dave Roberts
  • Andrew Buckenham
  • Christopher Alder
  • Douglas Ormston
  • Nick Sparks
Remuneration Committee
  • Vernice Key (Chair)
  • Ray McCowan
  • Paul Cathrow
Chairs’ Committee (Quorum 3)
  • Ray McCowan (Chair)
    (members as required)


Ray McCowanChair of the Board


Register of Interests

Ray joined the Borders College Board in February 2022 as Chair of the Board. He is also the Director for the WEA [Workers Education Association] in Scotland and a member of its UK Executive Leadership Team. He is also a member of the Adult Learning Strategic Forum for Scotland a member of the Education Scotland Board and has previously held a number of other non-executive director roles.  Prior to his current roles Ray worked in the college sector as a lecturer and learning manager before securing Assistant Principal roles at Perth College UHI, Adam Smith College and finally a Vice Principal role at Edinburgh College.

Pete Smith – Principal of Borders College

Register of Interests

Pete’s contribution to further education began in 2004 with a senior position at Edinburgh’s Telford College.  He then joined Borders College as a Vice Principal from 2007 to 2018 before undertaking a similar role at North East Scotland College from 2018 until appointment to his current role in September 2022. Prior to joining the further education sector, Pete spent 15 years in local government, working in both corporate finance and delivering a range of education support services.

Pete currently serves on the Colleges Scotland College Sector Finances Committee and the Good Governance Steering Group.  He also undertakes non-executive director and trustee roles for external bodies, currently Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) and Live Borders.

Pete’s priorities are to ensure the College delivers the education and skills necessary to support economic growth in the Scottish Borders and beyond, as well as drive forward the innovative and creative partnerships and developments that will ensure that our economy is both inclusive and sustainable.

Building on the foundation of education and learning opportunities in the community, Pete is focused on the vision of ensuring that local partnerships with our schools are effective, that the concept of lifelong learning thrives within the Scottish Borders, and that Borders College plays a key role in delivering this.

Pete is clear that the enrichment of the student experience is essential to a successful college and is a process that is continual. Through self-evaluation and reflective practices Borders College will continue to respond to the ever-changing needs of the diverse student population.

The concept of the College as a community anchor is one that Pete feels very strongly about and is something that he is determined to ensure is recognised across the Region.

Paul Cathrow (Board Member since January 2021)

Register of Interests

Paul is an Economic Infrastructure Development Project Manager, employed by South of Scotland Enterprise. He has previously worked as a senior manager with Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership. In addition, Paul is Team Leader of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team.  

Carol Gillie (Board Member since January 2021)

Register of Interests

Carol worked for over 35 years in the NHS gaining a breadth of experience in a number of areas including finance, capital planning, procurement, estates and facilities.  She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in modern languages and is a qualified accountant (member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy).  She has also held a number of voluntary roles in support of her local community. 

Bernie Quinn (Board Member since July 2022)

Register of Interests

Bernie is a higher education consultant and director of Caledonia Education Ltd operating in the transnational education sector. Prior to this, he worked in Singapore as academic dean for a Swiss international branch campus institution. He was also a senior lecturer in the school of Business, Enterprise and Management at Queen Margaret University and has worked extensively in the far east.

Christopher Alder (Board Member since July 2023) 

Register of Interests

Christopher is President of the Borders College Students’ Association.

"Hello, my name is Christopher Alder, and I am the “Student President” for the Borders College Student Association. I have spent a large part of my career either learning or teaching in FE, He and the private sector; along with this, I have had a varied number of jobs, from floor sweeping to middle management posts. All of this greatly helps me in my current post in that I can relate to and understand the needs and points of view of both students and staff, which enables me to help the board be aware of the student's views on the varied issues that are brought to the board."

Prof. David Roberts (Board Member since July 2022) 

Register of Interests

Studied Agriculture at Reading University, followed by a PhD at University of London. On leaving University, Dave joined the East of Scotland Agricultural College and moved to Dumfries in 1982, subsequently as Head of The Dairy Research and Innovation Centre (Crichton Royal Farm) and then Head of Agriculture and Business Management Dept. at SRUC, retiring in 2021.

Dave has focussed on systems research, knowledge transfer and training both within the UK and in sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently Scotland Chair of Lantra, a member of the Scottish Dairy Growth Board and Chair of the Hannah Dairy Research Foundation. Dave is a Nuffield Farming Scholar; he is a Fellow of the Institute of Agricultural Management and Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies. He is passionate about improving the educational opportunities to both school leavers and older students in rural areas.

Vernice Key (Board Member since July 2022) 

Register of Interests

Vernice is now retired and has recently relocated to the borders after more than 20 years working as a CIPFA qualified finance professional and senior manager within local government in England where her final role saw her managing a shared service across a partnership of three local authorities. Alongside her professional career she has been able to develop and continue her interest in education through board membership of her local FE college, Cambridge Regional College.


Ugonna Mbaezue (Board Member since July 2022)

Register of Interests

Ugo is currently employed as a Project Engineer with Magnox Ltd. Prior to taking up this role, he worked in the private sector as a mechanical engineer specialising in heat exchanger design and engineering compliance. Ugo has also worked for the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, as a research associate. He obtained his MPhil and MSc. (both in Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Philip Macdonald (Board Member since April 2023) 

Register of Interests

Phil Macdonald is the Managing Partner of Oberlanders, one of Scotland’s leading architectural practices, with a head office in Edinburgh and 5 other offices across the UK, including in Galashiels. Oberlanders was founded in 1983, initially focusing in complex scientific research and healthcare facilities. However, today they undertake projects in all sectors and of all sizes and scales.  Phil is the Partner Lead for projects within the higher and further education, science and research sectors and has experience working on a wide range of projects from complex multi-phased refurbishments to large scale strategic masterplans and major new-build developments.

Phil joined Oberlanders in 1999, becoming a Partner in 2002 and Managing Partner in 2016. He has managed the growth of the practice to nearly 100 staff, with a clearly defined business purpose, vision and values underpinned by a strong people focused culture. He has developed cohesive and effective collaborations, allowing clients to access the very best in sector leading, innovative talent whilst having confidence in project delivery that is rooted in the local context. He facilitated Oberlanders membership of the International Design Alliance Network (IDeA) – a global alliance of like-minded architectural practices committed to sharing world class, sector leading knowledge and expertise, delivered in a local context and scale.

In December 2022, Phil was appointed to the Board of the UK Science Park Association (UKSPA) as Director representing Business Affiliate Members. In April 2023 he was co-opted onto the Board of Management of Borders College in Galashiels, also taking a position on the College’s Audit Committee.

Phil lives in Innerleithen, with his family. Away from work, he is a committed member of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team and is currently team Secretary, as well as being one of the team’s Casualty Carers. He is also a Scottish Ambulance Service Community First Responder in his local community of Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders where he is currently Chair and Group Coordinator.

Micah Hall (Board Member since Nov 2023)

Register of Interests

Micah is one of the Vice Presidents of the Borders College Students' Association.

"Hello, my name is Micah Hall, and I am studying HND Art and Design at Borders College. Previously, I attended Hawick High School, but College really allowed me to explore who I am and become more confident in myself. My current role is Vice President in the BCSA, I lend my voice to the students to make sure that everyone that attends the College has a positive and fun experience and can leave with the same confidence I have now."


Lindsey Hastie (Board Member since Jan 2024)

Register of Interests

Lindsey has over 20 years’ experience in property, construction and estates management both in the private and public sectors. As a qualified Building Surveyor, she has developed a wealth of experience managing large estates and complex buildings.

For the last eight years she has worked at The University of Edinburgh, where she is the Deputy Head of Maintenance Operations and responsible for the maintenance, renovation and compliance of the second largest educational estate in the UK, situated over six main campuses.

With a particular interest throughout her career in the development of construction related apprenticeships and previous winner of Apprenticeship Employer of the Year, she has worked closely with CITB, SDS and City of Edinburgh Council to support future apprenticeships and opportunities for young women entering the construction industry.

Lindsey was also a previous Board Member at Forth Valley College.


Nick Sparks (Board Member since Jan 2024)

Register of Interests

Nick works as a consultant in the land-based sector, having stepped back from his role at SRUC as a Dean of Faculty in late 2023. Nick took up the role of Dean in 2018, having held a professorial position in the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and, prior to that, various academic roles in the West of Scotland Agricultural College and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).


Douglas Ormston (Board Member since Jan 2024)

Register of Interests

Douglas has over 20 years of working with children and young people and is currently Chief Executive of TD1 Youth Hub, a youth work charity based in Galashiels. Prior to this he worked in both charity and local government, delivering positive outcomes for vulnerable young people.

He also sits on the board of Youth Scotland and as Secretary for Tynecastle FC.


Andrew Buckenham
(Board Member since Feb 2023)

Register of Interests

Andrew graduated in mechanical engineering prior to a career in product design and manufacturing at sites worldwide. A move into teaching later saw him head the engineering department of a large comprehensive school. Andrew has written several textbooks and revision guides for vocational Engineering subjects. He has also worked with a range of awarding bodies to develop engineering qualifications and is currently chair of examiners for BTEC engineering subjects.

Andrew currently lives in the Scottish Borders and lectures in Engineering at Borders College.


Jessica Elder

Register of Interests

Jessica studied at Borders College from 2018 – 2021; she completed the HND Business course, which gained her entry into Heriot-Watt University, where she went on to study International Business Management and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2023. Jessica started working for Borders College in the summer of 2021 as the Facilities Administrator & Campus Receptionist. Jessica also works part-time in the Heriot-Watt Library. Having been a college/university student, Jessica understands the need for further education and the benefits that FE/HE can bring to students. Jessica Lives in the Scottish Borders.