Tuesday 11th December marked a significant date in the calendar for SWC students and staff - Higher Education Graduation day - the highlight of the Higher Education academic year with over 600 students conferred during a ceremony at Omagh Leisure Centre.
The number of students achieving success is a testament to the continued growth and development of undergraduate provision at the college, working in partnership with Ulster University, Queen’s University and more recently the Open University, to widen access in participation in undergraduate study.
Speaking at the event, Michael McAlister, Chief Executive, SWC, said;
“South West College’s higher education has been a beacon of light for the regional economy, and has grown by over, 400% in recent years. The industrial and commercial base of the South West Region has prospered, greatly, from the outstanding graduates that leave this institution on an annual basis. Those graduates bring their newly found skills and knowledge to bear, for the benefit of this region and beyond, and we are constantly reminded by leaders of industry in the region, how important a resource you are, and indeed we are, as a centre of learning."
This year’s keynote address was delivered by James Kethcell. James became the first and only person to have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, successfully summited Mount Everest and cycled 18,000 miles around the world - in what the media dubbed, “The Ultimate Triathlon.”
James described his approach to these extraordinary tasks as ‘nothing special’, but his words were very profound for the graduands and everyone in the audience. He said:
“Everything is possible if you continuously set incremental and achievable goals, all you have to do is trust the goodness of the people around you, accept support and work hard at what you want. Do not see everything as a challenge, break it down and figure it out. Take chances, learn from your mistakes, but most of all enjoy life to the full and be thankful for it!”
Degrees, Foundation Degrees, Higher Level Apprenticeships and other professional qualifications were awarded to graduates at the event who studied at South West College’s campuses in Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh. Students graduated on a number of undergraduate courses that are accredited by Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast.
The College is hoping to continue the development of its higher education provision in the years ahead by further developing new links with the Open University to broaden its curriculum offer, and aid the progression of Undergraduate provision to full Honours Degree, locally, for students in the region.
Mr Michael McAlister, said:
“We are essentially a rural economy, and we don’t have the kind of services that are readily available in larger cities, and if we want our region to remain in a healthy state, with high levels of employment, in export driven industries, we must continue to develop our services. We need to see more, level 6 Honours degrees available in South West College, to support the growing demand for high-level skills within our indigenous industry. We have been extremely fortunate in recent years, that through strategic-partnership-arrangements with Ulster University, Queens University, and now the Open University that we have seen a number of programmes at level 6, offered locally. That provision is continually evolving with new programmes planned for 2020, and we will continue to work with our valued partners, to explore what other developments we can deliver, into the future."
Concluding the ceremony Dr Nicolas O’Shiel, Chair South West College Governing Body, said:
“On behalf of all South West College staff and Governing Body members I would formally like to congratulate the class of 2019 on their fantastic achievements, and wish all graduates every success in the future."
For further details on the full range of courses offered by South West College log on to www.swc.ac.uk.