A COLLEGE in the New Forest welcomed a special guest to cut the ribbon on its brand new state-of-the-art teaching facilities.

Brockenhurst College’s new STEM Centre was officially opened on Friday by veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby.

He was shown around the high-tech facility by Principal Di Roberts CBE, who pointed out some of the Centre’s key learning innovations before the grand opening.

Following the ceremony, Mr Dimbleby hosted his BBC Radio 4 show 'Any Questions?' live from the college.

The STEM Centre is largely funded by the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which awarded £3.7m in February 2015.

The building is also a result of collaboration between the College, computer giant IBM and the University of Southampton.

It now stands as a unique venue for teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and maths, which is designed to inspire students to succeed through its highly-integrated learning systems.

Before unveiling the plaque on the new facility, Mr Dimbleby said: “It is hard to think of four interrelated skills that are more important than that, for whatever future we are to have in the decades ahead.”

College Principal Di Roberts CBE said: “This exciting moment marks the realisation of a long-held vision. As Principal, I thank the College’s governors and staff, as well as business leaders and the LEP, for their outstanding contributions.

“Indeed, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all those who have helped deliver this first-class learning asset, which will no doubt nurture future leaders in STEM-related professions.”

Dr Mike Short, Chairman of Enterprise M3 LEP, said: “The Enterprise M3 area has world class hi-tech businesses with a high demand for STEM skills.

"This demand underpins our strategy to invest £29 million in STEM Centres to develop our future workforce and enable our businesses to remain globally competitive.

“The opening of this STEM Centre at Brockenhurst College, showcases the investment from IBM to develop cutting-edge learning technologies ensuring our young people are ready for their future.”

‘Any Questions?’ featured a panel comprising Hilary Benn MP, Anna Soubry MP, newspaper columnist Tim Stanley and Director-General of the CBI Carolyn Fairbairn.

Panellists discussed issues including perceived elitism in top universities, Universal Credit and Brexit.