NI school leavers encouraged to take alternative routes to university

  • Northern Ireland’s Universities and Further Education Colleges have united behind a new initiative aimed at ensuring school leavers are made aware of the full range of higher education options available locally.

    For the first time school leavers, parents and careers staff will have access to the full higher education course listing through a single source at each of Northern Ireland’s two universities.

    Dedicated pages on each University website will provide a full listing of all higher education opportunities available to school leavers. Individuals who do not receive an offer can use the web pages to signpost them towards other provisions, including foundation degrees and higher education courses at Northern Ireland’s six local Further Education Colleges.

    The aim is to ensure that Northern Ireland’s school leavers understand the many alternative and valued routes to a university degree that are available via Northern Ireland’s six regional Colleges.

    This is the first time that tertiary education providers have jointly worked on a project of this scale, and it is hoped that the move will not only benefit students, but will also benefit employers, by ensuring there is a strong pipeline of highly skilled individuals coming into the local workforce.

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    Colleges offer a wide range of higher-level qualifications, including Level 5 qualifications, foundation degrees and higher national diplomas, as well as higher level apprenticeships.

    The Department for the Economy’s recent 10X Skills Strategy highlights the future undersupply of skilled individuals coming through at Level 5. Many of these work-related qualifications have been co-designed with employers to address skills gaps and provide participants with clear progression routes through to employment or alternatively the opportunity to progress through to a full honours degree with a local university.

    Chair of the College Principals’ Group, Ken Webb, said: “Results day can be a joyous or disappointing occasion for some. To give school leavers confidence to move their careers forward, we have partnered with the universities on this landmark initiative.”

    “Young people who do not receive their expected grades for university should not lose hope or feel that they must forgo their career aspirations. There are alternative routes to that university degree at the six local colleges and they can still reach their end destination by taking on a higher education course or foundation degree in college first.”

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    Source: Written from press release

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