Carrickfergus woman closer to new career via flexible learning

Carrickfergus woman, Dawn Harrison.
Carrickfergus woman, Dawn Harrison.

Getting a qualification can improve your career prospects and even be the difference between remaining stuck in an employment rut and landing your dream job.

Northern Regional College and its higher education (HE) partners, including professional bodies on both sides of the border, has extended its offering of accessible and affordable higher education options, making it easier to get a nationally accredited qualification.

Mature student Dawn Harrison from Carrickfergus benefitted from the flexible learning options available at Northern Regional College.

Having returned to College in her fifties, Dawn is now a step closer to a new career as a counsellor.

Last year, she completed an Access Diploma in Social Sciences and Creative Arts at the Newtownabbey campus.

She graduated with Distinction, which gave her the entry requirements to do a Foundation Degree in Counselling.

Dawn said: “I left school at 16 and trained as a hairdresser. A few years ago, I did a part time counselling course and really enjoyed it but couldn’t go any further because I didn’t have any formal qualifications. Doing the Access Diploma helped change my life by giving me an opportunity to train as a counsellor.

“It was a great stepping stone for me. Because I’d been away from school for so long, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to cope but the lecturers were brilliant and helped to build up my confidence.”

Full-time and part-time HE courses at the College’s campuses in Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Magherafelt and Newtownabbey include Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLAs), Foundation Degrees and Degrees covering a range of vocational areas, including Construction, Engineering, Sport, Health & Social care, Counselling, Computing and Business. For mature students looking to return to education on either a full time or part time basis, the Access to University course can be an ideal stepping stone.

Professor Terri Scott, CE and Principal of NRC said the programmes have been carefully selected to represent real value and a number of new courses have been introduced to reflect the needs of both students and employers.

The professor said: “For example, in addition to the wide range of Foundation Degree programmes validated by Ulster University, we are now offering a full time Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Studies at both our Trostan Avenue and Newtownabbey campuses. On successful completion, students can go into the second year of the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies course at Stranmillis University College.”

Professor Scott said that applications to this Foundation degree are through UCAS and even if students haven’t already applied, it not too late to apply as they could still be offered a place through clearing in August.

Another new programme introduced for the 2018-19 academic year is the BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care at Newtownabbey which is being delivered in partnership with Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT).

Prof. Scott said: “Remember though that places on many of our courses will fill up quickly. If you are waiting for exam results, you don’t have to wait until the results come out in August to apply.”

School leavers intending to study at a third level institution next academic year can apply for loans to cover tuition fees and living costs. Additional support is available for students with dependants.

For more information visit Student Finance Northern Ireland. Funding is also available for part-time study.