College Status / Updates

The College will continue to closely monitor the evolving challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and will keep under review the relevant government guidance to ensure that the health and safety of our students and staff is maintained. In order to protect our students and maintain the ongoing quality of teaching and support, the College may have to implement certain amendments or other such reasonable adjustments in relation to your time of study at the College.

These may include:

  • Alterations to course delivery methods (including implementation of distance or IT based learning)
  • Changes to course timetables (including splitting or staggering classes)
  • Temporary delays to course delivery; and/or
  • Temporary closure of the College.

Should the College make any such changes, you will be promptly informed of their nature, the reasons why they are needed and any options available to you to avoid such changes having an adverse impact on your future career or financial prospects.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in these very difficult circumstances. We hope that all our students and their families stay safe. For the latest government information please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

last updated 20/05/2020

Update 25/01/2021:

This is the latest information we have on the situation regarding this year’s exams and assessments. SERC deals with numerous Awarding Bodies with respect to the award of qualifications and we will continue to bring you new information as we receive it. All BTEC level 2 and 3 External Assessments and Essential Skills for the remainder of the year have been cancelled. Currently there is a consultation process with the Regulator and Awarding Organisations as to how grades and qualifications will be awarded in August 2021. We will not have any detail on that until mid-February. We do know that no student will be disadvantaged by the process that is introduced. Until we have more details please continue to engage with us and continue your studies online. There are classes to attend and assessments to complete, all of which will be valuable in your final grades.

 

Update 15/01/2021:

SERC deals with numerous Awarding Bodies with respect to the award of qualifications and the most up-to date information we have (at 15/01/2021) is as follows:

GCSE and A levels - Cancellation of both the 2021 January and June exam series for GCSE and A Levels has been confirmed. Alternative assessment arrangements have yet to be communicated.

Further Education – BTEC Level 2 & Level 3 - BTEC examinations due to take place in January /February have been postponed. This decision was reached and agreed by all six NI Colleges. BTEC at this stage seem to be indicating that these exams will take place in June but this may change. Pearson are yet to confirm any mitigations including reductions in assessments. Any changes will be communicated by your DHOS.

Essential Skills - Exams scheduled for January are postponed. Arrangements for alternative assessment procedures will be explained to you by your tutor in your on-line class but you must continue to engage with learning as robust evidence will be needed. At present ES Numeracy and Literacy Exams scheduled from March onwards, are planned to continue.

Higher Education – BTEC HNC/D - At this stage Pearson are indicating HNC/D programmes will be completed as normal and there will be no use of centre assessed grades in 20/21. Again, DHOS will communicate any further developments with these qualifications as Pearson release them.

Courses with ‘License to practice’ and/or practicals - Students on ‘License to practice’ courses for example, CCLD, or those courses with mandatory practical assessment will have to fulfil all required hours before certification can be awarded. This may mean a delay to certification. Students should be aware that course assessment may be extended to the end of June and placement hours gained over the Easter/Summer breaks.

All other programmes - All other Programmes offered by Awarding Bodies will have communicated their intention to proceed on a ‘Business as usual’ basis or use alternative arrangements. Please consult with your DHOS or Course coordinator on the latest communication from the Awarding Body.

Your Engagement - It is vital you continue to engage with your course online. Teaching and Learning will continue but if you have any barriers, concerns, or would like to discuss your arrangements, please do so with your Course coordinator / TSO or DHOS.

 

Please read the following statement from the five Regional Further Education Colleges on BTEC external examinations due to be held January 2021.

“The Department for the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds MLA, issued a statement 5 January 2021 with respect to vocational qualifications running in Further Education colleges and in particular to external examinations due to take place January 2021 on BTEC programmes. In the statement the Minister said that further flexibilities will be put in place for exams and assessments taking place in January.  

“Many factors have contributed to the high level of anxiety within the student population due to sit examinations this month. These include the local lockdown that has continued for most of the academic year causing considerable disruption to the planned curriculum delivery; the new variant of Covid-19 is creating a marked increase in the transmission of the disease in Northern Ireland; and students feel they are at greater risk in taking public transport to the Colleges to sit the exams. A substantial number of students are self-isolating and would not be able to sit scheduled examinations. Students have also highlighted their serious concerns, anxiety and mental anguish to their tutors and college senior managers in writing.   

“There still remains significant uncertainty with respect to the alternative arrangements to be organised by the awarding organisation and the NI Vocational Qualifications Exams Regulator CCEA, which in turn is causing serious anxiety and uncertainty for tutors and curriculum managers in colleges. Options may include rescheduling of examinations to a later date. The intention remains of ensuring that qualifications are completed by the end of June 2021.    

“In light of these considerable problems and to ensure equality of opportunity for all students the Colleges have taken the decision to postpone all BTEC external examinations for January for the well-being of its students’ mental health and to create clarity in the midst of so much uncertainty. In line with the Minister’s statement, the Colleges will ensure that no learner is disadvantaged through this process.   

“In respect of other qualifications scheduled to take place during January with different Awarding Organisations, the Colleges will be engaging with the CCEA Regulator and those Awarding Organisations to determine if these examinations should proceed.  

“The Colleges will urgently press the Department for the Economy and the CCEA regulator for further clarity on the alternative arrangements to be made by Pearson the awarding organisation.”  

Student Support Services over Christmas

Please find below details of some support services which may be useful over the Christmas period, but can be called upon at any time of the year. These relate to Counselling Support, Housing Support and Foodbanks.

COUNSELLING SUPPORT

Inspire Students - 0800 3895 362 - Inspire Students in an independent source of support and counselling for all students/trainees. They can be contacted for free, confidential and immediate support on the above number which is available 24/7, including Christmas. If necessary, they can call you back.

Lifeline - 0808 808 8000 - Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, Lifeline is here to help. Calls to Lifeline are free and Lifeline counsellors are available 24/7 to listen and help in confidence. Deaf and hard of hearing Textphone users can call Lifeline on 18001 0808 808 8000.

HOUSING SUPPORT

MACS - provides a range of services for young people, including for those experiencing homelessness issues. They can be contacted on 028 4461 6551 (Downpatrick) or 028 9264 6329 (Lisburn), or visit their website www.macsni.org 

NIHE (Northern Ireland Housing Executive) provides information and advice on homelessness and can be contacted on 03448 920 908 or click here to visit their website. In an Emergency the Housing Executive can provide temporary emergency accommodation for young people at risk of exploitation or who are vulnerable in some way by contacting them on 03448 920 908. For further information visit here - www.nihe.gov.uk/Housing-Help/Homelessness 

Simon Community NI is a homeless charity, working to support people who have no home and can be contacted on 0800 1712222 or visit their website - www.simoncommunity.org/homelessness 

House Rights NI can provide mediation services with landlords and tenants, support through disputes and support tenants with cases. They can be contacted on 028 9024 5640 or click here www.housingadviceni.org to visit their webpage

Emergency accommodation. For a full list of emergency shelters and beds if someone has nowhere to stay, please click here - www.chni.org.uk/advice.html#accomm 

Women’s Aid provide support and information in relation to domestic abuse. Full contact details can be found here www.womensaidni.org 

FOODBANKS

SERC students and staff have been generously supporting local Food Banks which have been making a real difference to people’s lives. If you need to contact one of the Food Banks in your area, please email them on the details below and they will be in touch:

Bangor: info@bangorni.foodbank.org.uk 

Ards: info@newtownards.foodbank.org.uk 

Lisburn: team@lisburnfoodbank.org

Downpatrick: fountainfoodbank@gmail.com

For a further list of Food Banks operating throughout Northern Ireland please click here www.cabfoodbanksuu.wordpress.com/list-of-food-banks/

 

Yes. All SERC campuses are open. To ensure everyone’s safety whilst on campus, strict social distancing measures and one way systems are in place. Face masks should be worn at all times in public areas of the campus. Hand sanitiser is available at all entrances and exits.  Thermal imaging cameras will be used to take the temperature of everyone accessing the larger campuses. Tutors will be able to update students on arrangements for particular classes and you can also contact us via email info@serc.ac.uk or by phone 0345 600 7555.

Official communication will come through the SERC student intranet, SERC website, student email and SERC social media pages.

Full-Time applications for 2021/22 will open week commencing 23 November 2020. Apply online at www.serc.ac.uk

If you would like Careers advice please contact our Careers team at careers@serc.ac.uk 

 

Applications for all part time courses, including Higher Education, are now open.  Once you apply for your chosen course/s, you will receive an acknowledgement email with the next step of the process. 

 

To be eligible for a Skills Intervention course you need to have been made redundant, be at risk of redundancy, be on long term furlough or have had your employment adversely affected as a result of COVID-19. For further information please contact businessservices@serc.ac.uk.

Awarding Organisations are in the process of issuing certificates to the College. We will make contact with you once your certificate is available. If you have any queries or need to access results slips in the interim please contact exams@serc.ac.uk.

When we notify you that your certificate is available, we would appreciate if you could wait until after the 'circuit breaker' period (Friday 16 October to Friday 13 November 2020) to collect your certificate.

Yes! If you are feeling anxious or stressed or feel you need resources to help with additional needs, https://www.serc.ac.uk/contact/customer-enquiries.  Alternatively, if you need to speak to a counsellor, then Inspire Students are available 24/7 on 0800 389 5362 for structured counselling support. If you have any health queries and cannot speak to a GP, then please email our Youth Health Advice Clinic on serchealth@setrust.hscni.net.  If you have any welfare issues at all, please email learning-support@serc.ac.uk 

Yes! SERC Careers Service remains open as a remote service. This will be monitored by phones and emails during usual business hours. Email careers@serc.ac.uk for more info.  If you applied to University, please check your emails for more guidance. 

SERC students – please keep checking your college email for your weekly Careers Bulletin which has all the latest information on UCAS, jobs and opportunities, plus much more.

Applications for travel passes are now online. Please apply at this link: https://www.eani.org.uk/financial-help/school-transport/further-education. For any queries please contact the Education Authority directly on 028 9056 6200.

All SERC students who are eligible for free school meals should contact their local Education Authority (details can be found at www.eani.org.uk).
EMA is a means tested fund available for Full-Time students continuing in Further Education who meet the eligibility criteria. To access a downloadable application form, guidance notes and to find out if you are eligible please visit www.nidirect.gov.uk Hard copy application packs are available at campus receptions. Alternatively we can post you a pack. Please email info@serc.ac.uk to request an EMA pack.

Yes! The LRCs are now offering a pre booking system for all our PCs, study desks and quiet room PCs. Due social distancing, we are currently restricting numbers in the LRCs and we would encourage you to use the Booking App in Student Apps to book your place in the LRC to avoid disappointment. A link to the Student Apps is below – you will find the LRC Booking apps at the bottom of the list of apps   https://student.serc.ac.uk/student-apps

We are also providing a Virtual Library of e resources and e books – current students and staff should click on this link to gain access to the Virtual Library.  You can also contact us at lrc@serc.ac.uk.

If you are studying a further or higher education course on a full or part time basis you may be eligible to receive assistance from the College Hardship Fund.  Check your student email account for the emails you will have received from the Student Finance Team about the Hardship Fund or email studentfinance@serc.ac.uk with a contact number and a Student Finance Advisor will give you a call to discuss eligibility for the Hardship Fund.
Our Student Finance team are all working remotely and are happy to assist with your questions. They can be contacted by email studentfinance@serc.ac.uk  The team can either reply to your enquiry by email or if you provide a contact the number one of the Student Finance Advisors will give you a call.  There is also information about various funding sources on the Fees and Finance section of our website: https://www.serc.ac.uk/fees-and-finance
Check out our Fees FAQ’s on our website  https://www.serc.ac.uk/college-information/faqs?g=5 or contact the Customer Services on 0345 600 7555

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