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Students studying for the OCN Tour Guiding accredited qualification at Northern Regional College have been able to complete their studies and achieve a 100% success rate this week thanks to the power of technology. Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the College put in place a series of measures to ensure that the 13 students at its Newtownabbey campus could complete their accreditation via online learning.

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The Empower Project, which helps families coping with autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia in the Mid Ulster, Antrim and Newtownabbey area, is continuing to offer support by posting resources online. Project Manager Marie Donaghy, is assistant head of Counselling at Northern Regional College, one of Empower’s stakeholders. She explains that Empower, a Lottery funded project, had been running regular skills workshops and social activities to support parents up until last month’s lockdown.

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In recent weeks, thousands of students and staff from Northern Ireland’s Further Education (FE) colleges have combined their time, talents and skills gained through their college courses to support frontline efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 61,000 students are currently studying further and higher education courses at Belfast Metropolitan College, Northern Regional College, North West Regional College, Southern Regional College, South East Regional College and South West College.

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A Health and Social Care lecturer at Northern Regional College doing weekend shifts as a healthcare assistant in the COVID-19 wards at Antrim Area Hospital plans to donate her payment for this work to Ulster University’s COVID-19 testing fundraising appeal. Jacqui McAllister from Carnlough, who teaches full time in the College’s Newtownabbey campus, admitted her family were “horrified” when she told them that she’d be working on the frontline, but felt it was something she had to do. She joins dozens of students from the College and Newtownabbey campus in particular, working as healthcare assistants in hospitals, nursing homes and in the local community during the pandemic.

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Engineering staff at Northern Regional College are using 3D printers to produce protective face shields to help cope with the unprecedented demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

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Northern Regional College has embraced a wide range of technology and digital platforms to deliver online learning to its students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the power of technology, around 4,000 of the College’s students who normally attend classes at its campuses in Newtownabbey, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Coleraine are now learning from home.

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