Foundation Degrees

Foundation degrees are the way forward

South West College is currently delivering over 20 Full-Time Foundation Degrees through both Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. The College champions Foundation Degrees as a unique third level qualification that combines academic study with work based learning. A foundation degree is the equivalent of two thirds of a full honours degree and is a fully flexible qualification allowing students to study locally to fit their lifestyle.

Foundation Degrees are 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.

There are many benefits to studying a Foundation Degree at South West College. It may be that you already have a great deal of knowledge of your profession and are looking to formalise that knowledge into a qualification, or it may be that on leaving school you are not sure that a full honours degree is for you. Whatever your personal situation, there are several reasons why you might opt for a Foundation Degree:

  • Flexibility - sometimes the idea of a full honours degree can seem daunting; a foundation degree may offer a more accessible stepping stone. You will be able to study at your own pace, fit it around any paid work that you might want to do. You can study close to home to save travel and accommodation expenses.

  • Earn while you learn! - for many people taking a break from earning is a decision they are simply not in a position to take, and some would rather maintain financial independence than give up work in order to study for a degree. A Foundation Degree offers you the opportunity to do both, and in fact, continuing working whilst you study is actively encouraged.

  • Better career prospects - employers lead in the design and development of foundation degrees. This ensures that they meet current employment needs. Therefore, on completion of a foundation degree you have a qualification and a range of skills which are attractive to employers. These skills are particularly useful if you are looking to become a higher level technician or associate professional such as a legal executive, marketing consultant or personnel officer.

  • Experience counts - Qualifications are not always necessary for entry onto a foundation degree. An individual's relevant experience, achievements and motivation to undertake the programme will all be taken into account as well.

  • It's a great place to start - South West College offers a friendly and supportive learning environment where students often find that once they have started a Foundation Degree at the College they find themselves wondering why they hadn't thought about studying before!

If you wish to apply for a foundation degree you can apply online here

Shane McMahon reviews the benefits of studying Construction

Tell us a little about you?
I left school in 2003 with 7 GCSEs and enrolled at the Training Centre in Enniskillen for a plastering apprenticeship. The recession in the construction industry got me thinking of a new direction for my career. I have always had a fascination with bridges and buildings. In recent years, I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively in Europe and visit/photograph famous bridges and buildings. This prompted me to attend an open day at the College in Omagh in 2011 and the rest is “history”.

Tell us about your course?
I am currently studying the Foundation Degree in Civil Engineering and Transport, accredited by the University of Ulster at the Omagh Campus of South West College. The course is an excellent combination of theory and practice. Site visits to “live” projects enables me to see the design in the office transformed into the structure on the site. The lecturers on my course take a personal interest in me, and their enthusiasm for the subject is infectious. My fellow students and I have developed a strong bound, which we will carry through to university and beyond.

What do you hope to do in the future?
Whilst my foundation degree course has the specialism in transport, I would like to concentrate on structural engineering, when I complete my honours degree at university. I am currently on work placement with a large consultancy firm, and most of the design work undertaken is for structural steelwork and reinforced concrete. I find this experience extremely interesting and beneficial for my course.

For further information about this course contact William Young Tel: 028 8225 0109 or email:

Slane Maguire discusses his passion for Engineering

Tell us a little about yourself....
From a very young age, I had a passion for engineering, this was mainly due the fact that I attended Irish road racing events with my father who has competed and raced in them ever since. Always being surrounded by motorbikes was amazing as I became fascinated by their workings and how everything had to be precise in order to get the very best out of the machine.

Before long I got the opportunity to work on my father’s motorbikes which furthered my passion mechanical and electrical engineering. As I enjoyed working at the bikes so much, I knew that engineering was the path I was going to take when it came to choosing a course at college. When I saw the Wind Specialism course, it stood out to me as something different. It also is a sector which is going to keep growing which should heighten my chances of coming out with a good job after I
obtain my Degree.

In 2012 I applied for work experience in FG Wilson in Larne. I was accepted into the position however it was an unpaid position and due to the sheer mileage from Kesh to Larne I was faced with the dilemma of either missing out on this fantastic opportunity or putting myself into serious debt to pay for travel expenses. I met with Mark McGuigan at South West College to discuss my options and he informed me that I was a prime candidate for the Strickland scholarship - a scholarship presented to students with excellent academic ability but who also take time to give back to their community.

Mark explained that as I had been a founding member of a local charity group called ‘North Fermanagh Cancer Focus NI’ (for which I had organised numerous events) coupled with the high grades in all my modules, which I was a very good candidate for the scholarship. I was awarded the scholarship and this now meant that I could take the fabulous opportunity of working for the global company, FG Wilson. Without the Strickland scholarship I would not have been able to take the opportunity and I am very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to further my education and boost my knowledge of the industry.

Tell us about your course...
The thing I like the most about my course is that it has a good combination of both classwork and hands on practical work. It also covers every aspect of engineering including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and also areas such as health and safety. The main thing I enjoyed though was the opportunity to work on wind turbines through a hands on approach.

What do you hope to do in the future?
I hope to pursue my career in engineering and ideally I would love to get a job working on wind turbines. At the moment I am considering possibly continuing on to university and obtaining a full Degree. But I might take a few years out first to gain some practical experience!

For further information about this course contact: Mark McGuigan (Course Coordinator) email: