Higher Education

Higher Education

In the academic year 2019/20, South West College had the largest number of Higher Education students, both full time and part time, since the college’s formation, making SWC the largest provider of Higher Education outside of Belfast.

SWC enables access to higher education in rural areas in Northern Ireland, helping to ensure opportunities for students, as well as supporting economic development in the region by providing a  curriculum which meets the needs of local employers.

Each year, large numbers of students graduate from SWC with broad range of qualifications in various subject areas, validated by Ulster University, Queens University, and The Open University, as well as by other professional awarding organisations.

Industry Relevant and Flexible Learning options

South West College (SWC) offers a wide range of modern and industry-relevant Higher Education (HE) curriculum, delivered within a flexible learning environment. 

The College has a clear strategic vision to increase HE provision to ensure that it widens access, increases participation and supports economic development and job creation, particularly for the population of the South West region. 

SWC has worked strategically over the past 20 years to provide a high quality Higher Education offer that is affordable to students. It has overseen a growth in full-time and part-time provision, with the development of 37 HE programmes that incorporates 12 level 6 programmes, 18 foundation degrees and 12 Higher Level Apprenticeships. 

These qualifications have been developed and aligned to economic regional needs and priority skills requirements in accordance with the Northern Ireland Skills Barometer and the Sub-Regional Skills Barometer, which assess the future skills demand of industry for the local economy. This ensures that we are providing our students and the future labour market with the academic and practical skills to grow our economy. With a clear focus on the STEM agenda and creative industries, we offer programmes across a wide range of subject areas, including Business & Finance, Science & Technology, Engineering, Construction, Healthcare, Transport, Sport, Creative Arts, and Hospitality, the majority of which are linked to degree programmes in partnership with The Open University, Queen’s University and Ulster University. 

SWC aims to achieve high academic standards whilst addressing the vocational needs of local demand. Quality of provision is of utmost importance to SWC with external reviews acknowledging high standards of excellence. The key findings of a Quality Review Visit undertaken by The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) in March 2018, outlined that “There can be confidence that academic standards are reliable, meet UK requirements, and are comparable with standards set and achieved in other providers in the UK”.

Learning resources and support for students 

The College offers a wide range of support services and facilities to ensure that there is a supportive learning environment for all learners in each campus. 

The HE Academic Support Programme is available to all HE students studying across all campuses of SWC. The programme is part delivered via face-to-face workshops and virtually via the Digital Mentors. Services includes academic support for a range of study skills including academic writing, Harvard Referencing, plagiarism, presentation skills, research techniques, exam revision tips and proof-reading. HE Academic Support Officers are also available to meet students in small groups or on a one-to-one basis and can provide workshops on study skills and 

guides to independent learning, particularly prior to assessment submissions and during the pre-exam period. 

Our Learning Resource Centres offer an excellent range of services and facilities including an academic library and computer suite with a wide range of software tailored to the needs of our Higher Education students. Experienced staff guide students in accessing College systems, interactive technologies and resources, including academic research tools and study skills. Digital Mentors are also on hand to provide 1:1 and group support with digital learning and digital skills. 

The College’s Student Services team provides wide range of support, which is easily accessible on-site in each campus. This covers admissions, student finance, health & wellbeing, careers and learning support.

Bachelor of Honours Degree Top-ups

Bachelor of Honours Degree Top-ups provide an ideal articulation route for students that have already obtained a Foundation Degree or Higher National Diploma to achieve a full Bachelor of Honours Degree in one year full-time or two years part-time. 

Find out more about our Top-up Degrees

Bachelor of Honours Degree 

A Bachelor of Honours Degree provides a theoretical approach to learning and an in-depth understanding of a subject area.  South West College offers Bachelor of Honours Degrees in Corporate Law and Finance, Business Studies, Social Work, Early Childhood Studies and Energy Environment & Sustainability.

Find out more about our Bachelor of Honours Degrees 

Foundation Degrees 

A Foundation Degree is equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelor of Honours Degree qualification which combines academic study with work place learning. Designed in association with employers, these qualifications equip students with the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to achieve academic results as well as improve performance and productivity in the workplace. 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 three years. South West College also offers a unique accelerated option for some programmes, delivered part-time over two years (two summer semesters included).  

On successful completion of the Foundation Degree, students may have the opportunity to articulate onto a Bachelor of Honours Degree Top-up at South West College, or onto the second year of an Honours Degree in a Higher Education Institution.

Check out our Foundation Degrees

Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)

A HND is a Level 5 vocational qualification that provides skills that are relevant to a chosen career. A full-time HND takes two years to complete, or three to four years part-time. Generally a HND is equivalent to the second year of a Bachelor of Honours Degree qualification.
On successful completion of the HND, students may have the opportunity to articulate onto a Bachelor of Honours Degree Top-up at South West College

Check out our HND courses

Higher National Certificates (HNCs)

A HNC is a Level 4 vocational qualification that provides skills that are relevant to a chosen career. A full-time HNC takes one year to complete, or three to four years part-time. HNCs are generally equivalent to the first year of a Bachelor of Honours Degree qualification.

Check out our HNC courses

Professional Qualifications

South West College also offers a suite of qualifications that are accredited by professional bodies in subject areas such as Business, accountancy, Human Resource Management, Energy and Sustainability, Sport, Childcare and Automotive Diagnostics and Management.

Find out more about our Professional Qualifications
Please Note: All Foundation Degrees are accredited by either the Open University, Ulster University or Queen’s University Belfast and all have direct articulated pathways to Honours Degrees at each respective university or at South West College