A NORTH Antrim MLA is urging the public to vote with their feet and help save the Ballymoney campus of the Northern Regional College which is currently under threat of closure.
As report in last week’s Times reviews are being carried out on the future status of the College’s various sites across County Antrim and beyond and one option mentioned in a report was the closure of Ballymoney and the current Coleraine site to be replaced with one new site in Coleraine.
Robin Swann says it is vital that the campus stays in Ballymoney and says as many people as possible should enrol in the college to help keep it in business in the town.
The Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman has called on everyone in the constituency to support their local Northern Regional College campuses to ensure their continued futures.
Assemblyman Swann, who is also North Antrim UUP Chairman, said the local ‘Techs’ in North Antrim had progressed over the years to become some of the central hubs in the constituency’s educational sector.
Mr Swann added: “The concepts of lifelong learning and adult education are vital to building an efficiently trained workforce in our constituency.
“In the past Assembly, a review of the administration of all areas of the Province was conducted to identify areas where savings can be made in administrative duplication in Further Education.
“This is so that the cash saved can be spent on the educational needs of the community and the development of our constituency’s college campuses in particular. But that does not mean campuses should be axed.
“The FE sector, and the campuses especially, have played a vital role in the life of the community in the North Antrim area and funding should be made available so that they can continue to stand at the centre of our community. “The importance of the role of FE in the community has not been fully recognised by educational theorists. FE, through the Techs and now the colleges, has made a major contribution to society in the region.
“It gave young people - who perhaps had not achieved as well as they would have liked at school - another chance to carve out a meaningful career with recognised qualifications.
“FE has also made a significant contribution in the non-vocational sector where young people were allowed to develop a satisfying and worthwhile hobby or educational interest alongside an older generation.
“The present set-up in the FE sector is cash driven. This has denied the community of many of its non-vocational classes. The ‘pay as you learn’ system being adopted is a copycat approach to an American educational system and I do not think it will achieve the objectives being set out by educational theorists.
“FE should be a blend of the vocational and non-vocational aspirations of the community and our campuses in North Antrim should be at the centre of activity throughout the week in the community.
“However, the community has its role to play, too, in ensuring the future of its local campus. It can support its local campus by enrolling in part-time or full-time classes which will benefit their learning experience or advance their qualifications.
“There has been much speculation about another rationalisation programme within the FE sector. As members of the community, it is imperative that all of us, young and old alike, play our parts in the fight to ensure the future of the NRC campuses in our North Antrim constituency,” said Assemblyman Swann.