Open Day 2019

The first open day of 2019 took place in Omagh on Tuesday. Thanks to all the staff who helped with and supported the event. It was a busy and successful day, with a great buzz of excitement and energy throughout, and tremendous enthusiasm and commitment from staff in the task of welcoming, informing and reassuring our prospective students and their family and friends. Once again, you have promoted SWC as an outstanding place to learn and work, which is of courses essential to our future success.

#OpenDay2019 Continues over the next few weeks, in Enniskillen Campus on January 22nd, and Dungannon Campus on January 29th. Good luck to all staff involved in the organising and carrying out of these days.


South West College sign MOU with Chinese Automobile & Engineering College

South West College signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Wuxi Vocational and Technical Higher Diploma School of Automotive Engineering as part of its growing international education strategy on Wednesday 16th January, at its Omagh Campus.

The purpose of this agreement is to establish a strategic partnership between Wuxi Automotive Engineering School and South West College which enables both institutions to work together to develop and deliver educational and training courses for the automotive industry.  It is envisaged that this will not only be to the benefit of both partners, but will also benefit the wider automotive industry by helping to address the global skills shortage.

Chief Executive Michael McAlister said: “Wuxi School has an exceptional reputation in China having forged a close partnership with the BMW Group and the Chinese Ministry of Education, winning the delivery contracts for three major projects in the automotive sector namely Sino-Nordnoven Project (Germany), General ASEP Project (USA) and PPG Spraying Project (USA) respectively. The school is also cooperating with the AHK Shanghai Representative Office (AHK) and Wuxi Commercial Building Group Dongfang Automobile Co., Ltd. to carry out the development of a pilot project of modern apprenticeship to train highly-skilled personnel in automotive technology and we are delighted to be a part of this partnership”.

Front row: Gu Mingzhu, Deputy Director of the Academic Affairs Office, Ji Linli Principal, Michael McAlister, Chief Executive SWC, Nicholas O’Shiel, Chair, Governing Body.
Back row: Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive Excellence First, and Lily Lin Director, Head of Global Business Development and Marketing at Excellence First.

The main objectives of the project will be to improve the mutual understanding and delivery of world-class professional education and training in automotive industry skills through joint initiatives in curriculum development and delivery; to enable the partners to benefit from collaboration on curriculum design with the specific aim of developing a ‘sandwich’ programme at Level 4, enabling Chinese students to study for a year in the UK; and to share knowledge, expertise and experience in industry engagement.

The partnership between South West College and Wuxi Automobile Engineering Secondary Specialized School has been developed through the work South West College has been doing in developing partnerships with China; and the work Wuxi College has been doing developing partnerships with the UK. Both colleges have been working with Excellence First Enterprise Consultancy, which promotes better UK / China understanding.

The South West College team visit to China in October 2017 led directly to the interest Wuxi Automobile Engineering Secondary Specialized School has in forming a strong partnership. The exchange planned will look at how both colleges can learn from each other and continue their outstanding record as leading providers of this type of technical education. The Wuxi Automobile Engineering Secondary School excellence in training in automotive engineering is well renowned in China and the reputation built by South West College in this discipline is equally strong.

The automotive industries are of course globalised and the requirements for job skills and training are pretty constant across the world. Nevertheless, there are different scales of operation, approaches to teaching and learning and use of digital technologies and communications that make this exchange full of potential for mutual learning and improvement.

Governing Body Chair Appointed

The Department for the Economy has appointed Dr Nicholas O’Shiel as Chair of the Governing Body of South West College. The appointment of Dr O’Shiel is effective from 7 January 2019 and are for a period of four years. Appointments to further education college governing bodies are made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland’s Code of Practice which can be found at: CPANI Code of Practice.

Dr Nicholas O’Shiel is currently Chairman of Enterprise Northern Ireland, a network of 28 Enterprise Agencies across Northern Ireland, and is also Chief Executive of Omagh Enterprise Company. He has held this latter role for a period of over 20 years, and is responsible to the Board for the leadership, strategic positioning and financial performance of the company. Former roles include President of Omagh Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Omagh Local Partnership and Chairman of Omagh Business Forum.  He also represented the business sector on the Fermanagh and Omagh Council Community Plan group.

In recognition of his achievements in business, Dr O’Shiel is a recipient of the Queen’s Award for outstanding contribution to enterprise. He was previously a Governor of South West College, and during his tenure served as Chair of the Education and Curriculum Committee and as a member of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, and holds both a Doctorate and Masters in Management.

Countdown to Gateway Switch Over

On the 21st January 2019 the Gateway switch over will take place.  Gateway will have a new look and feel and improved functionality. E-learning technologists are available for support on each campus and will be in touch regarding training workshops.

Diane.quinn@swc.ac.uk (Dungannon/Cookstown)

Siobhan.mccarra@swc.ac.uk (Enniskillen Fairview/ Skills Centre)

Michaela.loughran@swc.ac.uk (Omagh)

If you require access to documents stored on the current Gateway system after 21st January, please log a call on Virtual Services Helpdesk.


Intergenerational Cafe

The intergenerational cafe took place in Dungannon before Christmas, as students from the College’s Level 3 in Children’s Care Learning and Development (CCLD) and the Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care programmes worked alongside Primary 3 pupils from Dungannon Primary School and residents from X Nursing Home/Age NI to help bridge the gap between generations.

Speaking about the project, Fey Cole, CCLD course co-ordinator said: “Our idea for the intergenerational café came about in the classroom through group discussions around tackling issues such as isolation, wellbeing and sustainable learning in our community. We researched ideas on developing common themes to bring generations together to promote a more consistent, respecting and cohesive society and the idea for an intergenerational café was born.

“This is very much a project-based learning initiative, which will be mutually beneficial to the elderly, our own students and the young children through the exchange of skills and activities.”

A representative from Age NI said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this initiative which will see our residents share with the young people and children, some cultural traditions and skills that are disappearing or becoming lost in modern day society. Our residents are looking forward to meeting the young people and children and the prospect of learning new skills and perspectives!”


Torque’ Dor 2019

South West College’s Catering students are entering Torque’ Dor 2019, on what is the thirtieth year of the competition. We’ve had past pupils take part in this competition before, with great success, and this years students will be hoping to do the same. One of our students said: ‘we’re hoping this competition gives us the opportunity to progress in our careers as chefs.” You can find out more about the competition and the students involved in the video below…

Prince’s Trust Recruiting for New Year

The Prince’s Trust is recruiting for a new year. Last year the 2018 Omagh cohort were in Game of Throne’s country during their residential stay at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre last year, as they visited locations such as Inch Abbey where parts of the television sensation were shot.

Situated on the edge of the Mournes, Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, is Northern Ireland’s National Centre for Mountaineering and Canoeing Activities. It’s funded and managed by Sport Northern Ireland, and is placed in an area of Northern Ireland famous for having been used to film scenes for Games of Thrones. While on the residential retreat, the students took part in activities including rock climbing, high rope climbing, hill walking, and canoeing. While visiting Inch Abbey, the students were able to grab a picture with a group of Games of Thrones fans on a special tour of the spot made famous on the TV show.

The Prince’s Trust Programme begins again on 28th January. If you know of any students, past or present, that may be suitable for the Prince’s Trust, contact:

Omagh – oonagh.mullin@swc.ac.uk Mob: 07544915362
Cookstown – leon.hughes@swc.ac.uk   Mob:  07840904735
Enniskillen – Catherine.donaghy@swc.ac.uk  Mob:  07523273865


College Connect students teamed up with Catering Students to hold a coffee morning in Omagh yesterday, with all money raised donated to the South Sudan Charity. After a successful event, a total of £175 was raised. Thank you and congratulations to everyone who supported the event and gave generously, and particularly to the catering students for their help.


Project 10 at South West College

In 2015, the Department for Employment and Learning provided South West College with an award of £100,000 to go towards Rural Based University Education in the South West Region. The result was Project 10, which aimed to maximise South West College’s ability to help address access to higher education in rural areas. With a rural basis covering the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, which contains a population of around one-hundred-and-sixteen thousand, South West College has sought to make progress in this regard in a wide range of areas. The crucial indicator of the success of Project 10 comes in the individual lives and careers of the students involved, one of which is Connor Fee. There will be more on Project Ten in further editions of Front Page Friday.

Name: Connor Fee

Hometown: Enniskillen

Course: BSc Hons Degree Computing Systems

Mode of study: Part Time

Employer: Severfield NI

Conor says: “I’ve been a chef for about 10 years but decided a few years ago that I wanted a change from the constant evening and weekend work. I completed a Foundation Degree in Computing Science, which brought my level of education up to level 5, and I was delighted when I heard about the possibility of Project 10 and the chance to continue into Level 6 without having to travel. As a full time chef I was only able to drop a few hours per week to devote to studying, so if this course wasn’t available to me locally then I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

My experience in the course have been fantastic, exposing me to new methods of learning and completing tasks which will without a doubt help me in the real world environment. I believe the fact this Hons degree course is available locally will contribute to the growth of the industry, because in the past people have often had to settle for a different avenue of education or work based on what was available locally. My plans for the future are to be in an environment where I am constantly motivated and faced with new exciting challenges each day, and I have recently accepted my first full time position as IT Technician in a local business which has been a massive step forward for me. Without project 10 I might not have been so successful in fulfilling that goal.”