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South West College Confucius Hub


Like every course in South West College, the delivery of Mandarin Chinese Language & Culture classes through our Confucius Hub has encountered hurdles in recent times. With additional rigorous health checks, entrance exams, declarations, self-isolation and travel to contend with, it is understandable that our full complement of tutors have yet to arrive to start their classes.

However, this term we welcome TEN new tutors, alongside our two remaining tutors, to work across our three campuses – Enniskillen, Omagh and Dungannon, plus one based in Newry who also falls under the guidance and leadership of SWC Confucius staff.

Following on from numerous meetings with Confucius Institute at Ulster University during lockdown, it was decided that classes, (September-December 2020) would be delivered virtually. If social distancing guidelines are eased, we hope that later in the year we can return to face-to-face delivery to our 4000+ students who study with us on the programme.  This change to delivery has been warmly welcomed by schools who expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the continuation of the lessons which gives their pupils an invaluable insight into the language and culture of China.

Owing to the delayed arrival of the new tutors to our Hub, we are currently exploring the possibility of our new tutors delivering their teaching online in China before they arrive in Northern Ireland! Whilst there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching, this is an incredibly exciting development for remote delivery to our participating schools. Confucius Teaching and Learning Advisor Fey Cole said ‘Over the last term we have had to rethink our delivery models. To be at this point where we can start the new academic year with tutors delivering classes from Beijing to Fermanagh is very exciting and shows the strength of the Confucius Hub.’

This week saw Confucius lessons re-commence in our community. Mr Blaine Stewart, Principal of Derrygonnelly Primary School is delighted to welcome Ms Xu Haoying, who his staff and pupils fondly refer to as ‘Anna’, back to his school, albeit remotely on Monday morning, stating: “…. we were just so excited to welcome Anna back for our Mandarin lessons….thank you South West College.” Mr Stewart speaks very highly of the programme and the benefits it brings to his pupils. Part time language classes are available to both existing and new students. For more information on how to enrol, please contact Confucius Project Officer Linda Beatty at: Linda.Beatty@swc.ac.uk

Apprenticeship Recovery Package Presents new Opportunities to Students and Employers

Students hoping to continue their education while also taking steps into the working world received a boost recently with the announcement that Employers will receive up to £3,700 for every apprentice brought back from furlough.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds made the announcement that around £3,000 per apprentice will also be available to employers for each new apprenticeship opportunities created between April, 1 2020 and March 31, 2021.

This comes as part of the Apprenticeship Recovery Package for Northern Ireland, developed by The Department for the Economy, which will channel financial support to local businesses to help the apprenticeship system respond to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Apprenticeship Recovery Package includes short-term interventions which are targeted to reduce significant longer term economic impacts, and it will benefit employers as well as students and employees. These interventions will reduce unemployment and ensure that employers continue to have access to people with the skills and qualifications needed to maintain productivity, to grow their businesses and to assist in closing the skills gap, ensuring that more people have a pathway to better paying jobs.

Noreen McGirr, Higher Level Apprenticeship Programme Manager at South West College, says the announcement was welcome news.

“At South West College, we really value the long established links we have with local employers, particularly through the various apprenticeship schemes we offer. We’re delighted that this Recovery Package has been made available, especially during the winding down of the Furlough Scheme, and we hope that many of employers will avail of this package. There are a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities available at SWC and we currently have a number of students who are seeking employment.”

If any employer is interested in availing of the Apprenticeship Recovery Package please contact either Noreen McGirr, Higher Level Apprenticeship Programme Manager noreen.mcgirr@swc.ac.uk or Christopher Robinson, Centre for Excellence Manager, Work Based Learning Christopher.Robinson@swc.ac.uk

MEET Maria Damaskou, SWC PhD student

Maria Damaskouu is a PHD student with the renewable engine project. Here she gives an account of her experience with both South West College and the University of Strathclyde.

At home in Greece, I completed an MEng in Electrical & Computer Engineering which led me to embrace the importance of energy management and sustainable investments. Following this, I decided to move to the UK to complete a Master’s degree in Sustainability and joined Renewable Engine as a PhD student after that. I am enjoying my current research in analysis and modelling of energy systems and also the link with my industrial partner, Doosan Babcock, which has enabled me to make my research impactful and applicable to real-world systems. The pandemic and lockdown has been challenging but I am grateful my research could continue remotely as I enter the final year of my PhD. I have gained valuable experience and made some very positive memories through working with skilful people and visiting new places in Northern Ireland and Scotland. My key highlight is that this year I contributed to my first collaborative journal publication with SWC, Strathclyde University and Imperial College London, published with a highly respected journal.

SWC Flu vaccination programme 2020

The Staff Health & Wellbeing programme has been working with Medicare Pharmacy Group to bring the flu vaccination to your campus*.  It is planned to administer the vaccine w/c 12 October 2020.

Due to the high cost to the College, precise numbers are required before the vaccination programme takes place to ensure that no vaccines are wasted

The Public Health agency have advised that this year’s vaccine is specially formulated to tackle the strains of the virus which are expected to be circulating this winter.  The flu vaccine campaign has been expanded to help reduce the spread of flu and lower flu-related hospital admissions at a time when the health service is under strain as a result of COVID-19.

“The PHA has developed an animation which provides lots of information on the flu vaccine, including tips on how to reduce the spread of flu and flu-like illnesses and tackling flu myths. The video is available through online channels and is at www.pha.site/fluanimation .

*subject to a minimum number – if the number is not reached the programme will take place at the nearest campus.

Free Stress Control Classes

This month’s free Stress Control classes are now available online for the next 5 weeks.  Visit www.ni.stresscontrol.org to gain skills to help you cope with stress and anxiety.


congratulations to staff member Barry McCarron who is having a very big week indeed!  Barry is Senior Business Development Officer in College and was successfully awarded has PhD from Queens University on Monday. He has completed  this part-time whilst working in the College and he received support through the College Higher Education Professional Development Fund. Barry’s research focused on post-occupancy monitoring of the College CREST centre as a demonstrator passive house project.

On his same day Barry and his wife Aisling also welcomed their third child, a baby boy called Dylan!

Congratulations to Andrew Maguire, whose story Tactics was shortlisted for the RTE Short Story Competition this week. A shortlist of 10 was announced from over 4,000 entries, and the winning story will be announced on Monday 28th September. You can read the story here.

A competition for original short stories for radio was first established in 1986 in memory of Francis MacManus (1909-1965), the Kilkenny-born novelist, biographer and former Head of Talks and Features at Radio Éireann. Since its establishment, the competition has been a launching pad for many writers who have gone on to receive national and international acclaim, including Claire Keegan, Molly McCloskey, Anthony Glavin, Danielle McLaughlin and Nuala Ní Chonchúir.

The winning and shortlisted short stories are produced for radio and voiced by some of Ireland’s most talented actors of the stage and screen. In recent years these have included Peter Hanly, Ali White, Emmet Kirwan, Cathy Belton, Ingrid Craigie, Denis Conway, Andrew Bennett, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú, Kathy-Rose O’Brien, and many more. Listen to podcasts from past series here


We are in extraordinarily challenging times for the arts & culture sector, but the Omagh and Fermanagh Culture Night takes place tonight with a series of virtual events. Individual arts & cultural enthusiasts and organisations have pulled a creative rabbit out of a hat by organising a range of activities and programmes. There will be a wide range of cultural experiences from films made both locally and internationally, traditional singing workshops, site-specific drama, food, literature, jazz, multi-arts events and much much more.

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