Higher Education

Higher Education

The College offers a wide range of modern and industry-relevant Higher Education curriculum. A key strategic target for the College has been to widen access and participation opportunities for students and, particularly, for the population of the South West Region. This strategic aim has been achieved in many ways. The College now provides an affordable, quality Higher Education offer and has overseen a growth in full-time provision of 400% and a growth in part-time provision of 50%. Quality has not been sacrificed to achieve this growth with all external assessments indicating standards of excellence.

The majority of courses are linked to degree courses in Queen’s University or Ulster University and provide the knowledge and skills required by the emerging knowledge economy. I hope there is an option that suits your needs.

Higher Level Apprenticeships

A Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) is designed around high value and high skill activities and is currently: An apprenticeship with a targeted qualification between Level 4 (HNC equivalent) to Level 5 (Foundation degree or HND equivalent). Designed to help individuals develop professional and technical skills, as well as gaining recognised higher qualifications while in paid employment. The best combination of on-the-job training whilst at the same time enabling the apprentice to study for a higher level qualification to give you the knowledge businesses need in todays global marketplace. A desirable, cost effective and viable alternative to university education. One of the ways in which employers are now seeking to fill their higher level skills gaps efficiently and effectively by tailoring learning directly to the work place.

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships

Part-time top-up Undergraduate Degrees

These new undergraduate pathways are an ideal articulation route for students that have already obtained a Foundation Degree or Higher National Diploma and seek the flexibility of part-time study close to home.​ Successful applicants will be eligible to enter onto the third year of a relevant BSc Hons and can complete their studies over three additional years part-time.

Foundation Degrees

A Foundation Degree is a degree level qualification which combines academic study with work place learning. Designed in association with employers, they are qualifications to equip people with the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to achieve academic results as well as improve performance and productivity in the work place. Foundation Degrees focus on providing core skills for a particular job or profession to increase employability skills for employers. A full-time foundation degree will take two years to complete, and part-time courses will normally take 3 years. However, at South West College a unique fasttrack option is also available part-time over 2 years (2 summer semesters included). Completing an honours degree following on from a foundation degree will normally take an extra two years.

Check out our Foundation Degrees

Fast track Foundation Degrees

Since 2013 the South West College has been offering ‘Fast Track’ Foundation Degrees in the areas of Computing, Construction, Building Services, Architecture, Engineering Management, and Sustainable Construction. This framework has been developed in partnership with the Ulster University and is specifically designed to enable work based learners to complete a part-time Foundation Degree in two years over six semesters supported by blended learning. This model of delivery provides greater flexibility for work based learners and is offered at a reduced fee of £1000 per year. For further information log onto: www.swc.ac.uk/contactus.


A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a workrelated course provided by higher and further education colleges in the UK. A full-time HND takes two years to complete, or three to four years part time. Generally an HND is equivalent to second year of a university degree and is a Level 5 qualification.

Check out our HND courses


A full-time Higher National Certificate (HNC) takes one year to complete, or two years part time. Many HNC courses cover the same subjects as an HND, but an HNC is one level below an HND. It’s generally equivalent to first year of a university degree and is a Level 4 qualification.

Check out our HNC courses

Please Note: All Foundation Degrees are accredited by either the Ulster University or Queen’s University Belfast and all have direct articulated pathways to honours degrees at each respective university