Civil engineering success at South West College
THE first foundation degree designed to prepare learners for a career in civil engineering is achieving unprecedented success.
The course in civil and environmental engineering at South West College (SWC) and accredited by Ulster University, gives direct access to an honours degrees at the university and beyond.
It aims to prepare learners for a career in civil engineering and related industries at higher technician level. It provides students with specific practical and professional skills in analysis, organisation, design, teamwork and communication.
It also aims to prepare learners to progress to honours degree level study or directly enter employment as a highly skilled employee.
Course director Dr Danielle McKelvey said working with the university framed a curriculum content for the degree, designed to meet the needs of industry.
The primary objective, she said, was to offer an academic and vocational cross-over qualification, which would ensure employability in an industry, facing an acute skills shortage.
Since its launch in 2010, it has attracted increasing numbers, year on year, for both full time and part time study.
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.
That award highlighted "the employability-focused degree as a good example of effective collaboration between industry, education and government".
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.
Students are now travelling from across the north to attend SWC's Omagh Campus, making it the most successful apprenticeship available.