Awaiting your GCSE or A Level Results?

A Level Students Encouraged to Explore Undergraduate Opportunities at South West College

August means decision time for thousands of young people across Tyrone and Fermanagh, who upon receiving their A Level results will be deciding what future steps to take.

Some people will know exactly what they want to do next, but for many, this stage of life is about exploring new opportunities, discovering the different and exciting careers that are available to them, and keeping their options open.

Your local Further and Higher Education College – South West College (SWC) – prides itself on student focus, superb facilities, industry engagement and accessibility for all. For a long time, university was considered the only option for undergraduate study, but in recent years, many students have chosen to study a University accredited course at their local college, and this year that opportunity of undergraduate study closer to home may be more appealing than ever.

At SWC students can choose from a range of full-time and part-time Higher Education courses, across many curriculum areas in levels such as Higher Level Apprenticeships, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Foundation Degrees.

The further education sector currently delivers around 18% of all higher education provision in Northern Ireland, and completion of these vocationally led courses often result in direct employment, continued education and training, or they serve as a stepping stone to a Full Honours Degree.

Foundation Degrees (completed in two years full-time, or three years part-time) combine hands-on practical learning with academic study which can later be topped up to a full degree. All Foundation Degrees are accredited by the Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast or the Open University and all have direct articulated pathways to honours degrees at each respective university.

Alternatively, Higher National Diplomas and Higher National Certificates focus on ‘learning by doing’, providing skills that can be used in a particular job. They are highly valued by employers and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.

Most recently, SWC has been part of a new wave of learning through the introduction of Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLAs). Open to post A-Level students and those who have undertaken Level 3 qualifications, HLAs allow students to jointly study and work in paid employment in their chosen profession. The HLA is a unique work-based programme that enables participants to earn while they learn, while gaining a recognised Level 5 qualification. Courses are funded by the Department for the Economy, so students never have to worry about tuition fees.

There are other reasons why many students opt to study at their local college. As well as the extensive range of courses, many students prefer the smaller class numbers and the benefit of added individual hours with lecturers and tutors. Studying an undergraduate course at SWC is also a more affordable option, with much lower tuition fees, and students have the option to live at home, reducing the substantial living and maintenance costs that come with moving away.

SWC also focuses time and energy into improving the health and wellbeing of students, recognising the positive impact this can have on study and future success. The college’s thriving student services facilities offer a wide range of extracurricular activities as well as advice and support on careers, student finance, safeguarding, learning support and equality.

At SWC we encourage students to aim further, go higher and study local, and we can provide a range of options designed to kick start your journey to graduation or employment, no matter what grades you receive or what path you want to follow. To find out more about the options available for you at South West College, visit our website: