Ann Southwood, the retiring chief executive officer at Newbattle Abbey Collage, was presented with an honorary degree by Queen Margaret University (QMU).
After a long and distinguished career in careers guidance and further education, she took up her appointment at Newbattle in 2000.
This year, she retires as the longest-serving principal of a further education college in Scotland.
As a residential adult education college, Newbattle offers adults with few or no qualifications the opportunity of a transformative learning experience within a historic heritage site.
It has inspired many people to return to education and transform their lives, from MSPs to George Mackay Brown, the Orkney poet and author.
Thanks to Ann’s determination, the college is now recognised as the national provider of adult education and it has recently launched the Adult Education Awards, which are raising the profile of adult education throughout the UK.
She has nurtured links with all four Edinburgh universities, the strongest of which is with QMU.
Under Ann’s leadership, Newbattle has worked with QMU to develop different pathways into university, including the creation of an HNC Social Sciences.
This allows students to be recognised as associate students of QMU and, on successful completion, to transfer into level two of the university’s social sciences degrees.
Professor Petra Wend, principal of QMU, said: “Ann’s role in achieving financial stability for Newbattle Abbey College and establishing its place in the Scottish educational landscape over the last 17 years has been exemplary.
“Her drive to support adult learners, regardless of background, to achieve their potential through college and university education, fits with QMU’s commitment to widening access and equality of opportunity.”