The South West College has achieved unprecedented recent success in the field of civil engineering through the delivery of the first Foundation Degree to be offered in Northern Ireland.
The degree, which is accredited by Ulster University, gives direct access to the honours degrees at the University and beyond.
Dr Danielle McKelvey, Course Director, working in conjunction with the University, framed a curriculum content for the degree, designed to meet the needs of industry.
The primary objective was to offer an academic and vocational cross-over qualification, which would ensure employability in an industry, facing an acute skills shortage.
Since the launch of the foundation degree in 2010, the course has attracted increasing numbers, year on year, for both full time and part time study.
A key to the success of the degree has been the continuing collaboration with the civil engineering industry and the professional bodies to ensure that the course content remains relevant and that professional progression is considered as an essential twin-track approach for the next generation of civil engineers.
The degree has received formal accreditation by the Institution of Civil of Engineers and in 2014 was awarded first place in London, by the New Engineering Foundation in the category of “Best Example of Innovation in a STEM programme”. The award highlighted “the employability-focused degree as a good example of effective collaboration between industry, education and government”.
A measure of the course success is reflected in the exceptionally high level of achievement by College graduates, who have progressed to University and graduated with the highest grade Honours Degrees and Masters Degrees at Ulster University and Queens University. Alternatively a significant number of College graduates have opted for the world of work and secured employment with a wide range of the largest sector employers in the UK and Ireland.
Dr Robert Eadie, Chair Engineers Ireland Northern Region Ciarán Donaghy graduated from Ulster University with a Master of Science with Distinction in Infrastructure Engineering and received Engineers Ireland Achievement of Excellence Award.
There was a further boost for part time study at the College, when government introduced the “earn and learn” Higher Level Apprenticeship initiative in 2015, whereby the student is required to be employed in the sector and attend College for one day per week. Such is the popularity of this programme delivery that students are travelling from all over Northern Ireland to study at the Omagh Campus, making it the most successful apprenticeship available. Students are currently travelling from Belfast, Toomebridge, Downpatrick, Newry, Armagh, Keady, Draperstown, Ballymoney, Magherafelt, Dromara, Maghera, Derry, Strabane, and Dungannon to study the programme due to its exceptional reputation.
For further information about the course contact: William Young, Project Officer Civil Engineering Curriculum Development Programme; Email: William.firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 028 8225 0109 Ext: 5254