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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, it may be possible to deliver this course in the local community. Please get in contact with the engagement team to discuss further.
Yes, we have a dedicated team of Student Finance Advisors, who would be happy to answer any of your questions. For further information visit the Student Finance area of the website
If you’re a student with childcare responsibilities, you’ll be pleased to know our Newcastle Campus, on the Castlewellan Road, has an onsite creche, called ‘Little SERC’.  Students may even be eligible for a means-tested grant to help with childcare costs. To find out more please email communities@serc.ac.uk
Yes, we can arrange for someone from our engagement team to visit your school, community group or organisation for an informal talk, presentation or to display a promotional stand.  To find out more and/or arrange a visit please get in contact.
If you are interested in applying for a course and need assistance in completing your online application our friendly Customer service staff are always happy to help.  For assistance please phone 0345 600 7555 or email info@serc.ac.uk.
The engagement team run several stakeholder engagement events each year to inform staff and volunteers, who engage with the local community, about what courses are available to the local community. If you are interested in learning more or would like to attend one of these events please get in contact.
Yes, our Careers Advisors are on hand to help you with your UCAS application.  We can help with everything from choosing your courses and writing personal statements, to helping you prepare for university interviews.  

An Apprenticeship is a work based learning programme funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE), it is designed for 16-24 year olds, contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week. You will get paid by your employer and the training is free.

Reasons to study an Apprenticeship course:

  • High quality professional and technical training.

  • High quality lecturing staff.

  • The latest technology to train on in College.

  • A Training Support Officer who will assist you both in the workplace and in the College.

  • Essential Skills such as Literacy, Numeracy and ICT.

  • The opportunity to progress form Level 2 to Level 3 and beyond.

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.”  

Yes, please contact the Careers team to book an appointment. Contact Us

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/

 

Training for Success is designed for young people aged 16 - 18 (up to 24 years for those requiring additional support) and provides the training you need to get a job.  You will spend time in the classroom and in work placements in order to develop your skills.  You can access EMA on these courses and they are free.

 Reasons to study A Training for Success course:
  • High quality processional and technical training.

  • High qualified lecturing staff.

  • The latest technology to train on in College.

  • A Training Support Officer who will assist you both in the workplace and in the College.                                                   

  • Guidance and advice on career options.

  • Hands on projects where you can carry out work for voluntary and community based organisations.

  • Essential Skills such as Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and Employability.

  • Opportunity to progress to further levels of training.

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.

Yes, our Careers Advisors are on hand to help you explore your options and make informed choices about your next steps.  Please contact us to book a careers appointment.

Mix vital on the job training and classroom learning with a Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) at SERC. HLAs provide you with the skills you need for your chosen career and also lead to nationally recognised qualifications.

As an apprentice you earn while you learn and receive other benefits too. Higher Apprenticeships are a great alternative to university – many offer training up to degree level, a salary and the opportunity to start moving your career forward – all without paying hefty tuition fees or running up student debts!

Choosing a HLA will give you an alternative route to high skills roles in exciting organisations, nationally recognised qualifications, work experience where you get paid and transferable skills which help you progress to high skilled careers in the professions

To undertake a HLA you much be over 18 years old and hold a Level 3 qualification such as A levels, BTEC or OCR, NVQ Level 3 or an Advanced Apprenticeship. You may also need to have gained up to five GCSEs grade A* to C including English and Maths and you need to show you have the ability to complete the programme which takes between 1 – 3 years. Higher Level Apprenticeships are ideal if you are already in employment and are looking to upskill, however if you do not have an employer SERC can work with you to match you to a suitable company.

Reasons to Study a HLA:

  • 85% of HLAs stay in employment upon completion of qualification.

  • ⅓ receive a promotion.

  • Qualified Apprentices are 15% more employable.

  • Apprentices can earn £150,000* more in their lifetime.

*Source: UCAS

Yes, our Careers Advisors are on hand to help you compile and develop your CV.   We can also assist you with job applications and interview preparation.  Please contact us to book a careers appointment.

To gain entry to the Level 2 or 3 Apprenticeship programme, you must have an employer. The responsibility for securing an employer lies with you. This can be a daunting task for anyone, and so below is some advice on how to secure employment before attending College in September.

Once you have decided upon your course of study, you should seek an employer as early as possible, certainly before September. You must also complete an on-line application on the college website for your chosen course and send it in to the College. Please contact our Training Support Team to discuss your options.

Contact as many potential employers as possible by telephone, e-mail or in writing, making sure that you explain clearly why you are contacting them.

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

Wider employability skills are essential in securing employment after your studies. When you become a student at SERC you will be given the opportunity to develop these skills through our Employability Programme, that’s why your better off at SERC.

SERC will give you as many will give you as many opportunities as possible to help you gain better skills and get real life experience. You will have the opportunity to develop skills such as problem solving, good communication, critical thinking, people management and team working. This will make all the difference when you are applying for jobs or Higher Education courses in the future.

Studying at SERC will help you start the journey to your dream career as you will:

• Gain more qualifications

• Have the opportunity to set up a SERC Student Company

• Take part in industry projects

• Undertake work placements

• Get involved with volunteer programmes

We can give you advantages, skills and experience other young people take years to get. Students sitting where you are now have gone on to amazing careers with companies like Coca-Cola and NASA!

Employing an Apprentice can bring with it may benefits, as well as incentive payments, taking on an apprentice can help your business harness fresh young talent!

To get involved with the ApprenticeshipNI programme you can employ an apprentice or you can invest in a current employee by putting them through the programme.

  • Recognised training and qualification for your staff.

  • Can help all types of businesses harness fresh new talent.

  • Can help equip your workforce with the practical skills that your organisation needs now and in the future.

  • Students will learn from highly qualified lecturing staff.

  • The latest technology for your staff to train on in College.

  • An incentive payment is available for complete the Apprenticeship programme.

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. 

 

Yes, our Careers Advisors are impartial and can give you advice on your child’s career options.

We have a page on our website just for parents.

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://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://serc.ac.uk/fees-and-finance
Check out our Fees FAQ’s on our website  https://serc.ac.uk/college-information/faqs?g=5 or contact the Customer Services on 0345 600 7555