Education news

A-levels: College principal urges more students to consider `stem' courses

SERC offers an extensive range of higher education qualifications

School leavers are being encouraged to consider enrolling on a `stem' courses at one of the north's further education colleges.

The six FE colleges offer a range of higher education qualifications including degrees, foundation degrees, higher national diplomas (HND) and higher national certificates (HNC).

Ken Webb, principal of South Eastern Regional College (SERC), which has campuses in Lisburn, Bangor, Downpatrick and Newtownards, said he was concerned about the low enrolment of students, especially women, in science, technology, engineering and maths (stem) subjects.

He said many young people were instead gearing towards health care, business courses and the arts.

SERC offers an extensive range of higher education qualifications including higher level apprenticeships, foundation degrees in computing, applied science and mechatronic engineering and HNDs in manufacturing and electrical engineering.

With stem subjects a key driver of economic growth and prosperity, Mr Webb said he was encouraging students to explore "the many possibilities that their local further education college can offer and how exciting and rewarding a stem career can be".

"With females accounting for only 9 per cent of the engineering workforce, I am urging parents and careers advisors to promote and enrol their children in subjects that focus on academic excellence," Mr Webb said.

"I want women to aim higher and students to make brave decisions by undertaking programmes that will contribute to the country's development to accelerate growth.

"Employers have informed us that a qualification is not enough anymore and students need to have much more in terms of skills and experience including communication and commercial acumen. According to him, these attributes are the elixirs that enable students to excel, not just in academia but also in life."

:: Students seeking a higher education course can into the college to discuss the range of courses on offer and avail of stem careers advice. For further information call 0345 600 7555 or visit

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