LIMERICK and Clare Education and Training Board has received approval to proceed to the next stage in developing a College of The Future (COTF) with a new Further Education and Training campus in Newcastle West.
This proposal will transform learning in Limerick with an expansion of further education courses in the county and deliver full-time programmes in Newcastle West for the first time.
The project will have a digital focus ensuring students have access to the skillsets needed for the modern workforce. It will also involve the consolidation and integration of existing programmes including Youthreach and VTOS.
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said that Newcastle West had been chosen as one of ten locations to proceed with the development of a further education College of the Future.
“Newcastle West is the largest county town, and the principal service town for a range of townlands and villages within a small radius. An integrated FET College of the Future will facilitate the growing population of the town and the wider catchment area,” Minister Harris explained.
“This will increase the number of learners who can study in Limerick and crucially, improve links with higher education institutions across Ireland.
“This College of the Future Major Projects Fund will support the implementation of the vision set out in the Further Education Strategy. This Fund and the proposed development in Limerick has the potential to deliver on a range of strategic objectives. It is great that the proposal will now proceed to Preliminary Business Case Stage.”
Minister of State and local TD Niall Collins added that a ‘College of the Future’ in Newcastle West was a very significant opportunity for the people of Limerick, as we shape the future of further education and training in Ireland.
SOLAS chief executive Andrew Brownlee described it as an important milestone in the evolution of FET facilities and provision nationwide.
“This College of the Future is part of a larger shift towards distinct, integrated colleges of FET around the country, which will serve as a beacons of community-based learning excellence,” he added.
Limerick and Clare ETB chief executive George O’Callaghan said that building skills was a key theme in its FET Strategic Framework. which focused on offering modern FET teaching and learning environments that promote innovation and sustainability.
“While significant FET delivery currently takes place in Newcastle West, adequate learning facilities are required to accommodate different types of learners – including specialist training rooms, classrooms, libraries and study facilities.
“These facilities need to be accessible to their target groups, both for vocational and non-vocational learning, and new teaching methods may require specialist equipment – including access to on-line opportunities. The development of a FET College of the Future in the town will deliver on this vision,” Mr O’Callaghan declared.