Virtual Day 2017

Storm Ophelia made all the headlines this week, but even though the doors of South West College stayed closed on Tuesday, teaching activities continued via the college’s Virtual Learning programme.

With Further Education Colleges across Northern Ireland closed on Monday and Tuesday, our Virtual Day was brought forward from Wednesday to Tuesday, meaning that while the weather kept students and staff at home, they were still able to work remotely.

During the morning activities alone over 4000 users were logged in and engaged in learning activities, illustrating the strong ethos of virtual delivery and learning present at the College. Last December seven Zambian students graduated from the College’s Virtual Learning programme on a Higher National Certificate in Computing and ICT, further demonstrating the College’s experience and capacity to deliver teaching and learning to the highest standard via remote learning technologies.

Virtual Services Manager, Ciara Duffy, said: ‘thank you all for your participation and support in the delivery of Virtual Day. As always we very much appreciate feedback and this helps us plan and improve our service delivery moving forward.

We are particularly interested in sharing good practice and highlighting areas that went particularly well for students and staff.’

If you have any feedback to offer email siobhan.mccarra@swc.ac.uk


Launch of SWC Mobile App


If our Virtual Day 2017 showed what technology can do to withstand the compromises of adverse weather, the launch of the South West College Mobile App shows what it can do in more day to day experiences.

The App was launched on Wednesday October 11th, for use by student and staff, in line with South West College’s committed to harnessing the power of mobile communications. The app will provide a variety of college information,  contact details, news, photos, videos, access to Blackboard and much more.

It is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The plan is to have the app evolve to suit the needs of all college users so we are encouraging suggestions from students and staff as to what features they would like to see included.

If anyone has any suggestions for features that they would like to see included please contact Troy Prenter in Marketing(troy.prenter@swc.ac.uk)


South West College turning the tide on Blue Growth


South West College hopes to strengthen Northern Ireland’s marine economy by adapting existing technology and maximising the potential of the province’s aquatic resources.

As part of the €2.1m TARGET Project, the college is already using various technologies in innovative ways, and now intends to explore new methods of using that same technology to bolster Northern Ireland’s marine economy, after gaining inspiration from a recent conference that addressed Blue Growth.

Representatives from the college attended The Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme Annual Conference 2017 last Thursday at the Marine Institute in Galway.

Entitled ‘Blue Opportunities: The Marine Economy in the NPA’, the conference focussed on Blue Growth in relation to the Arctic and to the Atlantic Strategy. It also addressed areas such as marine entrepreneurship, the marine and coastal environment and sustainable tourism.

Padraig McNamee said: ‘What I found particularly interesting was that, as an island nation, we’re lagging behind. We actually get quite a small percentage of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) from the marine economy, at about 0.8%, compared to the global average of 2%.

‘But there’s plenty of scope for us to develop and explore our marine resources. We as a college will be looking at how we can use the learning from the TARGET Project, which has been aimed at land-based work, to explore marine opportunities. It’s more about upscaling what we’re doing – not necessarily doing it bigger, but doing it better.’


Paving the way for Chinese partnership


South West College recently hosted a number of staff and students from its partner College, Xiangyang Vocational and Technical College, China, which provides full-time and multidisciplinary higher vocational education.

The trip followed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by both Colleges in December 2016, the first step in paving the way for the delivery of a range of collaborations, including the development of curriculum and course design.

During their visit, the Chinese delegates explored our campuses and engaged with staff and students, as well as enjoying many visitor experiences along the way, including Belleek Pottery, the Giant’s Causeway, a Derry/Londonderry City Walking Tour, the Marble Arch Caves, Titanic Belfast and Lissan House.



Curriculum Conference


The 9th annual South West College Curriculum Conference will take place on Friday 3rd November 2017 in Dungannon Campus. The theme and content for this year’s Curriculum Conference has evolved from the findings of the skills audit which took place in June with you, the lecturing staff of our College.  Six areas were identified as top priorities for future staff development and we have used these to develop the workshop themes and also to “FLIP the Conference”.

There will be six sub-themes: (E) Entrepreneurship (M) Management (B) Behaviour (E)        Employability (D) Digital Innovation (ED) EDucation

‘A Day in the Life of a Social Worker’

There was a student talk for the Health and Social Care students in Eniskillen on Wednesday. The talk was given by WHSCT Social Worker Josie Doran and Social Work Manager Mandelle Toal, who discussed ‘A Day in the Life of a Social Worker’ and promoted social work as a career opportunity.


GAA Inter-firms

Staff from across our campuses will represent the college at the Ulster GAA Inter-firms Football Championship on Saturday 28th October at Garvaghey. The competition is huge this year, and now runs over two separate days. South West College will compete in the Junior Men’s section, hoping to improve on last years performance where they made it as far as the semi finals.


Celebrating Seafood Week for Charity


Seafood lovers in Dungannon and Omagh joined the rest of the UK in celebrate Seafood Week last week. The Dolphin Takeaway, officially NI’s Best Fish & Chip Shop, marked the occasion with a tasty pop-up event in Dungannon in aid of the Fishermen’s Mission charity, inviting all students and staff to pop into the level 1 kitchen on Tuesday 10th October to enjoy ‘Fish & Chip Lighter Bites’ for only £1.

That evening, the general public were treated to a ‘fin-tastic’ traditional seaside sit-down menu for just £9 in the college’s Etcetera Restaurant, where traditional fish and chips were served with mushy peas, bread and butter and tea, followed by delicious apple tart.

Owner of The Dolphin Takeaway, officially listed as one of the UK Top 10, Malachy Mallon said: “Seafood Week is about giving fish and seafood the recognition it deserves and thanking the people who produce it, from the fishermen who haul their fresh catch in all weathers to the chefs who serve it to our table. With the help of the fantastic students and staff at South West College we aim to raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission charity and inspire everyone to eat more fish by celebrating and serving the nation’s favourite dish – fish and chips!”

Grainne Mulholland, Catering Curriculum Manager at SWC said, “This topical pop-up event is such a great idea to help inspire our students and the public to celebrate seafood as well as raising funds for a very worthy cause. We are delighted to host the Dolphin’s Seafood Week event and we are proud to continue our valuable partnership with Malachy.’



Seafood week continued in Omagh on Thursday, when a lunch of fine dining was put on by the Omagh culinary students, two of whom had recently had success at the Loaves and Fish Festival at the estate of Lord and Lady Dunluce in County Down, where they entered a mackerel dish, and received commendation from Michelin Star chef Martyn Kajuiter, along with a special apron.

Local produce was the order of the day for the lunch, with trout, fresh from the Camowen River, provided by the Omagh Anglers Society, complimented by vegetables and herbs all grown on the Omagh campus.

Peter Waterson said he was proud of the students’ efforts to mark National Seafood Week, saying: ‘the students definitely excelled, and produced a meal to a professional standard. I’m particularly happy locally-sourced ingredients were used, as this gives the students an awareness of the importance of local produce and also an understanding of where food comes from.’

‘The talent and capability of our students is continually being demonstrated, and they are a credit to themselves.’



They say necessity is the mother of invention, so perhaps it’s no surprise that in 2017 a design made for one of our great obsessions, and mans best friend, is experiencing plenty of success.

K9 Connectables, described as ‘the mental challenge for dogs’, are dog toys designed with the assistance of an innovation voucher from the IDEA Centre at South West College, and which recently achieved success at the Irish Design Awards.

K9 Connectables