SWC launch exciting new degree partnership with The Open University

Left to right: John Moss, Head of Faculty, Built Environment, Creative and Life Sciences; John Darcy, Nation Director Open University; Tiernan McNamee and Adrian Dobbs, SWC students; Michael McAlister, South West College Chief Executive; John Moore, Head of School, Sport and Life Science.

South West College have today, Monday 16th September, announced a significant new partnership with The Open University, launching three new degree and top-up degree courses.  These new degree courses will complement the college’s existing curriculum and are approved as; a BSc (Hons.) in Sport and Exercise, a BSc (Hons.) in Engineering, and a BSc (Hons.) in Construction Engineering and Management.

This new collaboration will enabled the college to further its strategic priority of widening access to higher level education, particularly at undergraduate degree, to the people of the South West region.

Michael McAlister Chief Executive, South West College said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with The Open University to deliver these innovative top-up degree and degree programmes that are unique to South West College. They provide direct articulation routes for our Foundation Degree students in key areas of economic growth, allowing students to study from Level 2 to Level 6 (undergraduate degree level) locally, which is proving to be an increasingly popular choice in the region.”

The Open University, which is celebrating 50 years of education this year, is now the largest academic institution in the UK, and is widely renowned for its flexible, innovative approach to providing higher education for all.

John Darcy, Nation Director, The Open University, said:

“Our mission is to make higher education accessible to everyone and a great way to achieve that is by supporting college students to progress onto degree programmes. We are delighted that this partnership will enable the local community to have access to such high-quality degree provision delivered through the College, with a resulting significant positive impact on the local economy.”

This is a fantastic opportunity for local students such as Adrian Dobbs who has just finished a Foundation Degree in Construction Engineering with Surveying at South West College and will now be one of the first students to study the BSc. (Hons.) Construction Engineering and Management top-up degree to achieve a full Honours Degree.

Adrian has worked in Construction for over twenty-five years, he said: “Two years ago I was between jobs and came along to an information evening where I was introduced to the construction courses available at South West College.  I’ve enjoyed studying here in the two years since, and the opportunity to continue on towards honours level is fantastic. I’m able to study here in Omagh, one day a week, on a course that is financially viable for me, and still reach the same outcome of an honours degree”.

Tiernan McNamee has studied Sport from Level 2 onwards at South West College, and is continuing his education through enrolling on this new Open University accredited BSc (Hons.) Sport and Exercise course.

Tiernan said; “I still work, play football and have my normal home routine that I’ve had for a couple of years. I’m comfortable with that and comfortable at South West College, where I have the support of the tutors I know, in an environment I’m familiar with. The fact that I can continue my education here, but now come away with a higher qualification at honours degree level, is fantastic.”

Food For Thought

Today our Catering team began the pilot of an exciting new ‘Sustainability in Catering’ course for catering and hospitality students across Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh.

The course is designed to teach students the importance of the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental factors. This week’s session focused on an ‘Introduction to Sustainability’ and ‘How to Reduce Food Waste.’ The programme will continue over the coming weeks.

The Food For Thought project brings together 5 European Partners with specific expertise in the provision of catering and hospitality training and identifying emerging trends and skills requirements within the sector through collaboration with industry ambassadors, education providers and government departments. For more info visit www.foodforthoughteu.com

Paul O’Loughlin ‘cycles Everest’ for South Sudan

In the last few weeks several members of staff have carried out incredible physical feats, pushing themselves to the limits and raising money for charity while doing so.

On Friday and Saturday 23rd/24th August 2019, Paul O’Loughlin cycled repeats of ‘The Acres’ in Ballyshannon, Donegal for around 48, reaching a total climb of 8,848m, the equivalent height of Mt Everest.

Paul was raising funds for the South West College’s ‘Education Foundation for South Sudan’. Paul will present the donation he raised through this challenge to Omagh Campus Manager Padraig McNamee at a special coffee morning hosted by our STEP and Catering teams in Omagh on Monday 23rd September, from 10.15am-11.15am.

Allison Completes Celtic Warrior Challenge

SUSE+ Mentor Alison Farquhar was also on the road, completing an incredible challenge recently. Alison completed the Celtic Warrior Iron Man Distance Event on 5th August 2019 in Mullingar. Alison Swam 2.4 miles in open water, cycled 112 miles and ran 26.2 mile marathon in an amazing time of 15 hours and 40 minutes. Congratulations to her.

Sean O’Donnell was also on the road as he took part in the The Great North Run, the largest half marathon in the world, which takes place in North East England each September. Participants run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. Congratulations to Sean.

Of course, that’s not the end of the health and fitness opportunities. We wish all staff and students the best of luck in taking part in the Belfast Half Marathon this weekend!

Erne Campus Updates

Significant progress has been made to the South West College Erne Campus across the summer months, with the unique figure of the building now visible and noticeable from large areas on Enniskillen.

The Erne Campus will see the delivery of the first educational building worldwide to achieve the highest international standard in environmental constructions (PassivHaus Premium), ranking it alongside prestigious buildings such as the Apple Campus 2, in terms of sustainable innovation and design.

Peter Carr is a senior architect at Hamilton Architects, who are the ICT architects on the Erne project. He has spent several years helping bring South West College’s vision to fruition, and he explains that environmentally conscious construction was a major factor from the start.

“There are three main elements that went in to producing the original design. Firstly of course you have the requirements of the college and what they want from the building; secondly you have the features and practicalities of the site that was chosen; and thirdly you have the crucial element of the environmental requirements, which was a very important aspect for South West College.

“These three elements can be summed up by the curved glazed atrium at the front of the building. It’s a great design feature, because it gives the building an iconic look from the town of Enniskillen. However, it’s also a crucial environmental feature, because it captures so much solar gain. That’s been a crucial part of the design process of the building from the very beginning.”

Enniskillen Lift Share

The Lift Share scheme is now in operation at Enniskillen Fairview Campus.  This scheme is being piloted to help plan ahead for the new Erne Campus.  Staff at the Enniskillen Campus will see three new designated car parking spaces for Lift Share scheme participants at the backdoor entrance.  If you would like to  find out more about the scheme, it is not too late to get involved, just contact the Liftshare email: liftshare@swc.ac.uk.  You could be in with a chance to win another £50.00 Amazon voucher.

The two winners of the Enniskillen Life Share competition were Claire Fiddaman and Daveth Fox.  They both received a £50.00 Amazon gift voucher for entering the competition.

Student Focus Award Winners

Before the Summer break we had a collection of Innovative and creative student projects submitted to showcase the outstanding work by our students last year. We had a wide range of projects submitted, with each of them displaying an excellent piece of work within their curriculum area.

After viewing all of the projects, a group of judges have decided that the winning project is the CCLD Level 3 group who organised and run the Intergenerational Café. Congratulations to all involved! You can find out more about the project here:

The 2nd place prize was awarded to Omagh Student Ben who is submitted a personal project of his which focuses on the use of cycloidal gears in robotics. You can see Bens work here:

If your students have a project running which will be a good showcase for your faculty, get in touch with dominic.mcgeown@swc.ac.uk to document this work throughout the year for an end of year showcase.

Accounting Technicians Ireland HLA

Accountancy Technicians Ireland HLA provide students with the opportunity to “earn while they learn”. It provides pathways to a career in business, accountancy and finance, where apprentices are mentored through a two-year work based learning programme.

Accounting Technician Apprentices work four days a week with a registered employer and study one day a week in South West College on a two-year employment contract.

South West College Omagh offer the Accountancy Technician Ireland HLA course, which is funded by DEL.

South West College Omagh student Kyra Mac Mahon achieved top student in HLA Level 4 Accountancy Technicians Ireland (both in North and South of Ireland) during her employment at Claremount Chartered Accounts.

Kyra said: ‘I would highly recommend this course, as the experience of work based learning alongside academic learning is highly sought after. As part of the HLA course you are assigned an academic mentor from the college and a work based mentor from your employment, throughout the year my academic mentor would visit my employment which I found very helpful regarding the work based tasks and discussing my progress. I would like to especially thank my lecturers Mandy Milligan the course director and college mentor, Gráinne Mc Sorley this years course director, Siobhan Breen and Catriona Baxter. I am grateful to have worked in Claremount Chartered Accountants for my first year and I am excited to commence employment with Cavanagh Kelly Chartered Accountants in Omagh. I am proud of my results and would encourage other students to take this pathway as a career choice’

Jonathan Seymour HLA programme Manager for ATI, added: Dr Jonathan Seymour, HLA Programme Manager for Accounting Technicians Ireland, said that he was “delighted at Kyra’s success on the programme and wished her every success with her continuing studies and new employment. Embarking on a Higher Level Apprenticeship in Accountancy is a major commitment for any learner, but a rewarding one that is a fast-track to a career as a professional accountant. The ability to earn while you learn is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to full time university study, and school-leavers, or career-changers, have the ability to study professional and higher education qualifications at progressive institutions such South West College.”

Meet Our Students: James Robertson

There’s no one way to become a successful chef. Some people in the industry tell stories of growing up in the kitchen at their mother or father’s knee and never veering away from it; others are thrown into the restaurant environment through part time jobs or work experience, having never previously thought of themselves as ‘food people’, and begin to excel. For James Robertson, however, it was a mix of both, as after a series of twists and turns in his working life, he now finds himself as a chef de partie at Ardtata Country house, working in just the type of kitchen he’s always dreamed of.

Passion for cooking and working in the food industry came early for James. ‘My grandmother is a fantastic chef and I’ve always had a great relationship with her, so she was a big influence in that regard. I was very eager to get out and start working when I was younger. My uncle owned a restaurant in Balleygawley and when I was thirteen myself and my cousin worked there as kitchen porters, working for a couple of years, scrubbing dishes, chopping vegetables and learning a lot of basics.

Despite his passion, however, a long term career in the industry was never an obvious path. ‘I loved being in the kitchen, but at school I started following the academic route, because teachers were advising me to. I was happy enough following the crowd in that regard. I went to university, studied a few courses, and had multiple jobs. I enjoyed all of them, because I’ve always enjoyed grafting, working and taking on new challenges. Read more on Way out West…

World Suicide Prevention Week

Last week was World Suicide Prevention Week, so to highlight this important issue SWC Enniskillen Campus was delighted to host Rosie Maguire from Action Mental Health’s MENSSANA Team to chat to students.  Rosie is pictured with Niall Marlow SWC Health and Wellbeing Officer and SWC Students.  #WSPD2019 #SWCcares #mindyourhead

SWC Students finalists at the Travel Student of the Year Awards

The Travel student of the Year assessments were held in the Europa Hotel, Belfast, recently. There was strong competition from all the finalists in this year’s assessments. The six finalists were Chloe Gordon and Ethan Reith from the Belfast Met, Arlene Lawry and Margaret O’Driscoll, from the North West Regional College and Mayo Inthanufai and Mikaela Beggan, from the South West College.

Northern Ireland Travel News’ Editor Kirsty Johnston praised the three travel industry judges who once again gave up their valuable time and expertise to carry out the assessments: “The team at Northern Ireland Travel News would like to say a huge thank you to our industry judging panel who spent the morning sharing their invaluable industry skills and knowledge with the students.”

“This years students were an absolute credit to their tutors and educational institutions. They all demonstrated a passion for travel and tourism across a range of fields including cabin crew, travel agents, tourist boards and tourist attractions.”

“It is great to see some new faces coming into the travel industry with such a varied and fresh approach to growing both the travel industry and tourism sectors.”