Swords has just been earmarked for a new 1,000-student ‘College of the Future’ but what exactly are they?
A ‘College of the Future’ is a new concept that will bring a lot of the Further Education provision into one place. It will offer courses that allow students to finish their course and get a job or keep going with their study at a Univeristy.
Caveat: I have tried to answer these basic questions to the best of my ability with the information currently available. Apologies if there is anything incorrect and if you see anything please get in touch and I will correct. Ian
How will you get in?
Courses will be for school leavers but will also support other learning pathways in further education. It will also support ongoing training and education opportunities for those in employment. The aim is also to be flexible in its approach, supporting online learning.
Will the community get any benefit from the college?
One of the key aims of these new colleges is to be a community resource. That means providing facilities and using them for a range of societal and community purposes. They want to new colleges to be the ‘go to’ place to access education and training in Swords, and the communities where they are located. This could mean a theatre or improved sporting facilities that could be used by the community. All that is obviously yet to be decided.
What courses will be offered in the new college?
All that is yet to be decided but the aim of this type of college is to reflect industry requirements. In Swords this could mean anything from courses that serve the airport such as aircraft maintenance, technician courses for the pharma industry, or construction training to work in retrofitting. The possibilities are endless and it will be interesting to see what is offered. It has been suggested that Colleges of the Future will offer courses at QQI Level 5 and 6 and allow progression on to higher level courses. This would be courses which bridge the gap between training and higher education.
Where will it be?
This is also not clear but it is likely that such a college will want the space to develop a campus. For this the department is likely to look to the various land banks around the town. The Lissenhall LAP which is currently being approved by Fingal is a possible location and depending on the projected timeline they could look for a site near the Estuary Metrolink stop north of the town. There are also possibilities within the various areas with masterplans and a location may also be defined as part of the new Swords LAP which will be developed in the lifetime of the next Fingal Development Plan which will run to 2029.
When is it likely to open?
It is not clear when we will see this come to fruition. They are part of a national strategy for Future Education and Training which will run to 2024 and is being implemented at pace. This doesn’t mean it will be delivered by the end of that cycle but that the Department of Higher Education are committed to the implementation of this new model. The project has now moved to the Preliminary Business Case phase. After that, many of the current questions will be answered and the project will go to tender. It is likely this will take many years to move through the business case phase and tender.
The following graphic outlines the propose elements of a ‘College of the Future’.