A new further education campus is to be developed in Craigavon to replace the Southern Regional College campuses in Lurgan and Portadown, Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry has announced.
This announcement follows the Department’s success in drawing down £22.5million as part of the UK Government and NI Executive’s joint economic pact, Building a Prosperous and United Community.
The proposal is for a single new high quality campus in Craigavon to serve schools, students, employers and the community.
Minister Farry said this development will significantly transform the Further Education infrastructure in Craigavon.
He added: “The new campus will replace the current facilities in Lurgan and Portadown. Further Education (FE) colleges in Northern Ireland give many young people the first opportunity to experience shared education and are recognised as shared spaces for all in society, enabling them to benefit from education and training.”
The Minister continued: “In addition to increasing the number of places available for local young people, the new college will also expand its offer under the Entitlement Framework to schools right across the area. This will mean that more pupils from single identity schools will spend some of their school day in a shared space and in shared education.
“The Southern Regional College already enjoys a very good reputation as a provider of training and education with many of its vocational areas being deemed ‘outstanding’.”
He went on: “I am confident therefore that the shared education provided to students, school children, employers and employees through the new campus at Craigavon will be of the highest quality.
“The project will also provide employment opportunities in the construction sector. I will also ensure construction social clause contracts will make opportunities available for apprentices and for the long-term unemployed.”
Brian Doran, Chief Executive of Southern Regional College said: “We are absolutely delighted at the news that a new College campus in Craigavon has been selected as one of the projects under the United Communities initiative. Today further education colleges are at the forefront of shared education and this announcement is recognition of the important work that we do in bringing communities together. The Southern Regional College is a key player in providing cross community education where all people are welcome irrespective of age, religion, gender or background.
“This announcement is a massive boost to further education in the region and will enable the College to expand its provision, to increase its work with local business and industry and to further support the work that we do with local schools by providing all our young people with the same opportunity to experience vocational education and training. This is a great day for the College, for the greater Craigavon area and its people and I want to pay tribute to the Minister, Dr Stephen Farry and his officials for promoting our case through the United Communities project.”
Work will commence immediately to identify a site and for the appointment of a Design Team to take forward the development. Actual construction is targeted to commence in 2015/16.