College Status / Updates

The College is committed to protecting our students and staff and to maintaining the high quality of teaching and support provided. We are closely monitoring the evolving challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and continually working to implement government guidance in terms of ensuring SERC campuses are as safe as possible. With the support of the NI Executive we are introducing voluntary testing of staff and students without covid symptoms, using a lateral flow kits. You can find out full details below.

Lateral Test Information

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

Update 27/04/2021:

Exams and Assessments Update – grading for students on FE courses levels 1-3:

This update applies to VTAG, A levels and GCSE only. Different arrangements are in place for Access programmes and other vocational awards.

We appreciate that you have experienced a level of disruption this year and consequently the following information is designed to inform you on how grades will be awarded for summer 2021. The College has been asked by its Awarding Organisations to award a final grade that reflects the standard at which you are currently working.  This is referred to as Centre Determined Grading (CDG) or Vocational – Teacher Assessed Grading (V-TAG).  No statistical judgement will be made, grades will be based on your tutor’s judgement using a range of evidence that has been agreed with the Awarding Organisations.

To support this process the College has devised a Centre Determined Grading Policy that can be found on the SERC website www.serc.ac.uk under 'Public Information' should you and your parents wish to read it. The process that the College will be using is very clear:

  1. The Grade that you will be awarded is based on the standard you are performing at.  This is different to last year where the grade was based on the grade you were likely to achieve.
  2. To ensure fairness the College has outlined the range of evidence it will be using to inform grading decisions.
  3. This approach will be applied consistently across all students entered for the same subject. 
  4. Flexibility has been put in place to ensure no student has been disadvantaged.
  5. In exceptional circumstances e.g. illness or adverse circumstances where a student has been more significantly disrupted in comparison to his/her class, then that student will be considered for extenuating circumstances.
  6. Your tutors will make contact with you to ensure that we have sufficient evidence to make a grading decision that is fair, reliable and accurate.
  7. Your tutors will guide and assist you and your parents through the process.
  8. Finally, an Academic Appeals Procedure is available following the communication of results. We are awaiting final guidance from the awarding organisations but it will be posted on the website and we will notify you when it has been issued.               

In these last few weeks, please continue to work with your tutors to gather together the final pieces of evidence on which your grade will be based.

 

Update 24/03/2021:

Further Education – BTEC’s, OCR Level 2 and 3, Higher Nationals and Essential SkillsThis is the latest information we have on the situation regarding the award of qualifications in summer 2021. The Regulator has put into place the Vocational Contingency Regulatory framework which covers all vocational qualifications up to level 5. This includes BTEC’s and OCR Level 2 and L3, Higher Nationals and Essential Skills. 

A Levels and GCSE’s - These are covered by a separate framework.  While we do not have all the details as to how qualifications are to be awarded  we know that all of these awards will be based on the evidence of the work you have completed.  Your tutors will supply details of what happens next and what evidence will be used to assess your grades.  It remains important that you continue to engage with us and study online.  The classes you attend and the assessments completed will be valuable in assessing your final grade.  It remains that no student will be disadvantaged by the process that is introduced.

Foundation Degrees and Access ProgrammesThe methods of assessment and final grade calculation will have been provided by your tutors. 

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 specified 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 or beyond and placement hours gained over the Easter/Summer breaks. Your tutors will continue to keep you updated on your progress.

All other programmes will have designated assessments approaches dependent on the awarding organisation and your tutors will inform you of the process as soon as information becomes available.

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.

 

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.

 

Student Support Services

Please find below details of some support services which may be useful. 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. 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 however most teaching and learning continues to be delivered remotely at this time. 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.

Applications for all courses commencing September 2021 are now open. Apply online at www.serc.ac.uk

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

 

There are a select number of courses available for enrolment. Please check our website for details.

 

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.

If your certificate is available for collection you will receive a communication from us. For any queries contact exams@serc.ac.uk 

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.

EMA applications for 2020/21 close on 31 March 2021.

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

If you have any further questions click here to contact us.