Minister told to prioritise new ‘tech’

The north’s further education minister has been urged to prioritise the building of a new North West Regional College (NWRC) campus in Strabane.

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle says the onus is now on Department of Education and Learning (DEL) Minister Stephen Farry to announce “a definitive commitment and timetable in relation to the provision of a new build.”

She says a new NWRC campus has been on the agenda for some time and the issue has been raised with the minister in recent weeks.

Ms Boyle says expanding the further education (FE) sector is key to a wider economic regeneration.

“Given that the economic appraisal for a new build for the Campus has been with DEL since 2006, I asked the current DEL Minister Stephen Farry to state what priority he attached to funding this vital development for the district.

“While the Minister stated that capital funding for the Strabane campus was among his priorities and that the need for funding would be included in the Investment Strategy 2011 to 2021, which is due later this year, what we require is a definitive commitment and timetable in relation to the provision of a new build.”

The Sinn Fein MLA says the current facilities are inadequate in comparison to those in Derry, Omagh and Limavady.

“While £220K programme of maintenance and refurbishment works to the Strabane Campus was secured in 2008 following persistent lobbying and while this has enabled some expansion in courses and increased enrolment, this work is no substitute for the new build facility that is required so as to enable a full expansion in the range of courses that other campuses can offer, including the expansion of full time courses and Foundation level degree courses.”