07/09/2005

NI Further Education Colleges to merge

Northern Ireland's 16 Further Education Colleges will merge into six larger area-based groupings following a review of the sector, it was confirmed on Wednesday.

Confirming the decision as a "significant first step" in implementing a wider strategy, Employment and Learning Minister, Angela Smith, said: "The Department has been encouraged to see the considerable progress being made by Further Education Colleges since their incorporation in 1998.

"However, as identified by the Assembly Committee and in the course of our own review, there is scope for even more improvement through greater strategic planning.

"The six new area-based management units will be tasked with devising development plans aimed at ensuring that the particular skills and training of their local areas are identified and met. They will also work together to address the wider training needs of the whole of Northern Ireland."

Planning for the new colleges will commence immediately. They are as follows:
  • Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education and Castlereagh College of Further and Higher Education.
  • North West Institute of Further and Higher Education and Limavady College of Further and Higher Education.
  • Causeway Institute of Further and Higher Education, North East Institute of Further and Higher Education and East Antrim Institute of Further and Higher Education.
  • Armagh College of Further and Higher Education, Newry and Kilkeel Institute of Further and Higher Education and Upper Bann Institute of Further and Higher Education.
  • East Tyrone College of Further and Higher Education, Fermanagh College and Omagh College.
  • East Down Institute of Further and Higher Education, Lisburn Institute of Further and Higher Education and North Down and Ards Institute of Further and Higher Education
The decision to merge the colleges follows a major review and public consultation on the Future of Further Education in Northern Ireland instigated in 2001 by the Assembly Committee for Employment and Learning's inquiry into Education and Training for Industry.

(MB/SP)

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