College helps 2,000 students get to uni

A new centre has been opened at the North West Regional College in Derry to mark 40 years of the college helping students gain access to third level education.

Saturday, 23rd April 2016, 7:00 am
The Access Diploma in Combined Studies celebrated over forty years of providing learners with an access route to higher education with qualifications equivalent to three A-Levels. To celebrate this NWRC opened a new Access Learning Centre for current programme learners and staff featuring new classrooms and modern learning support areas, following a launch event on Tuesday 19th April. Pictured is staff and students at NWRC with the course founder Frank D'arcy, Professor Ruth Fee of University of Ulster and Emer O'Sullivan, Curriculum Manager and Course Director at NWRC.

Over the past four decadethe college has helped almost 2,000 get to university and the new Access Learning Centre has purpose built classrooms and modern learning support areas.

The Access Diploma is validated by Ulster University and is aimed at persons aged 19 and above who have not been in education for at least one year, and offers qualifications equivalent to three A-Levels. The unique course began at Magee in the early 1970s before it was transferred to NWRC. The unveiling of the new centre was attended by current learners, graduates, representatives from Ulster University and those who have been teaching on the course over the years, including Frank D’arcy, the course originator. Early students of Frank included the late BBC Presenter, Gerry Anderson; Women’s Aid founder. Cathy Harkin and the leading Trade Unionist, Jackie Nash.

Mr D’arcy recalled how it all came about: “I moved to the city in 1973 to set up ‘The Institute of Continuing Education’ in Magee, having been previously involved in Adult Education in Dublin and America. It soon became quite clear to me that Derry was a city full of people who were as bright as buttons. I managed to convince the Senate that there was a need to create an Access course in the city as I believed many adults did not have the opportunity to complete their education or avail of a complete education. Thankfully they agreed and set up the Access course, which was the first of its kind in Ireland.”

Emer O’Sullivan, Curriculum Manager for Business Services & General Education and Course Director said: “The course has produced almost 2,000 graduates since it transferred to NWRC from Magee, attracting learners of all ages and from all backgrounds. The course offers students a wide range of subjects to experience and enjoy”

The Access Diploma is available full-time and part-time students in Derry and Limavady. Full-time course applications are currently available and part-time enrolment is scheduled for early June.