SOUTH West College in Cookstown is celebrating an awards hat-trick after scooping three awards for excellence from the Association of Colleges.
The haul at the annual Beacon Awards event, which recognises the most innovative education achievements from UK colleges, included top honours for Cookstown-based industry support unit, the InnoTech Centre in the ‘College Engagement with Employers’ category.
The college’s dedicated STEM teaching centre in Dungannon was also recognised with the AQA Award for College/School Partnerships and Lord Willis of Knaresborough, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, selected the project from 14 award-winners to receive the coveted President’s Award
The honours follow recent success at the International Green Awards where the college was recognised for its Green Educational and Sustainability Awareness.
Speaking at the South West College’s STEM centre, Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry said: “This recognition is testament to the innovative work of South West College and its staff across a spectrum of services, ranging from effective engagement with employers, to its work with schools right across Northern Ireland in the promotion of STEM. To win these awards, the college has faced stiff competition from right across the UK, and, in the case of the gold International ‘Green Award’, from around the entire world.”
Mr Malachy McAleer, Director of SWC, added: “The STEM Centre and InnoTech Centre are two landmarks for industry-focused education in Northern Ireland. We are proud that our work has been benchmarked against the very best colleges in the UK. These honours belong to all our staff who have achieved exceptional standards.”
During the presentation of the Awards Minister Farry also launched a £6.9 million Employer Support Programme for further education colleges.
The additional funding of over £6.9 million is being made available to the further education sector, over the next 4 years, through the mainstream Employer Support Programme, commencing in this financial year (2011/12).
This funding stream will ensure the further education sector has the capacity and expertise to deliver the skilled workforce required for the future in collaboration with the business sector. The fund will also increase the role the further education sector has in supporting economic development and developing entrepreneurship.