A North Antrim MLA has challenged the Further Education Minister “to have a radical rethink about plans to shut the Northern Regional College’s Ballymoney campus and move to a new-build in Coleraine”.
UUP MLA Robin Swann issued the challenged after the DEL Minister informed him as Chair of the Employment and Learning Committee that the NRC Business Case has been approved, which sees the “consolidation” of the Ballymoney and Coleraine Campuses to the new-build site at Coleraine.
Mr Swann said: “This is yet another blow to Ballymoney town as the ‘traditional Tech’ was a major pillar in the further and higher education provision, not just in Ballymoney, but right across the North Antrim region.
“There is the real danger that shutting the NRC’s Ballymoney campus will create the impression that the locality is becoming an academic wasteland for further and higher education, and North Antrim students will have to travel to another constituency to develop their skills base.
“I urge the DEL Minister to have a radical rethink of the NRC Business Case and maintain a clear presence in Ballymoney town as the ‘Tech’ has always done for generations.
“I have requested an urgent meeting with NRC to ensure they are fully aware of the importance of the Ballymoney Campus, and the need to engage with the local community.
“The North Antrim constituency has suffered badly in recent years with substantial job losses. Further and higher education provision and training are crucial to rebuilding the constituency’s economy.
“The DEL Minister needs to be expanding the NRC’s facilities in North Antrim, not reducing them. This so-called ‘consolidation’ is a retrograde step for further and higher education in our constituency and I intend to combat this move at every stage,” said Assemblyman Swann.