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GALLERY: SWC celebrates largest ever graduation

The largest graduation ceremony in the history of South West College took place prior to Christmas with over 600 students conferred during a ceremony at Omagh Leisure Centre.

The number of students achieving success is a testament to the continued growth and development of undergraduate provision at the college, working in partnership with Ulster University and Queen’s University to widen access in participation in undergraduate study.

Speaking at the event, Michael McAlister, the new chief executive of South West College, said, “South West College’s higher education has been a beacon of light for the regional economy, and has grown by over 400 per-cent post-merger.

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The industrial and commercial base of the South West region has prospered greatly from the outstanding graduates, that leave this institution on an annual basis.

Those graduates bring their newly found skills and knowledge to bear, for the benefit of this region and beyond, and we are constantly reminded by leaders of industry in the region, how important a resource you are, and indeed we are, as a centre of learning.”

This year’s key note address was delivered by UTV television presenter Paul Clark. Paul has been a frequent visitor to the college in the past year, presenting his political programme ‘View from Stormont’ on two occasions from the Omagh campus. At the event Paul talked about his life and career and delivered a poignant message to the graduates.

Paul said, “In the challenging times that face Northern Ireland, due to Brexit and increasingly volatile global political landscapes, it is important that young people stay focused on working to make Northern Ireland a good place to live and work. That we don’t regress back to the past, and that we all celebrate days like today that acknowledge the wealth of talent that exists in our localities.

“It is only through your success and your continued development into the work of employment, or further studies, that we will secure a brighter more prosperous future for everyone.”

Degrees, Foundation Degrees and other professional qualifications were awarded to graduates at the event who studied at South West College’s campuses in Omagh, Dungannon and Enniskillen.

Students graduated on a number of undergraduate courses that are accredited by Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast. The college is hoping to continue the development of its higher education provision in the years ahead.

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Mr McAlister added, “We are essentially a rural economy, and we don’t have the kind of services that are readily available in larger cities, and if we want our region to remain in a healthy state, with high levels of employment, in export driven industries, we must continue to develop our services.

“With that in mind, I call on all public representatives to support us in that mission, and to bring whatever influence you have, to ensure that this region, receives its rightful levels, of investment and support.

“We need to see more, level six Honours degrees available in South West College, to support the growing demand for high level skills within our indigenous industry.

“We have been extremely fortunate in recent years, that through strategic-partnership-arrangements with Ulster University and Queen’s University, we have seen a number of programmes at level six, offered locally. That provision is limited, and only scratches the surface in relation to local demand, and we will continue to work with our valued partners, to explore what other developments we can deliver, into the future.”

• For further details on the full range of courses offered by South West College log on to www.swc.ac.uk.

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