110 years of Belfast Metropolitan College

 22 November 2016

By Principal and CEO, Marie-Thérèse McGivern

"One of our strengths at the college is our creative provision, with our students leading the way in competitions"

I am thrilled that Belfast Metropolitan College is this year celebrating its 110th anniversary! That is 110 years of leading the city to work, while making skills and education relevant; which is no mean feat.

Working and growing with Belfast

Over the years the college has become part of the very fabric of Belfast and beyond.

It has blossomed into an establishment that provides excellent training and education to 20,000 students every year, employing over 1000 people, engaging with over 400 employers and contributing £40 million to the economy.

Many of the most successful people in the country will have learned their trades at the old Belfast Technical College, Rupert Stanley College, Castlereagh College and the College of Business Studies over the years.

Setting up Belfast Met

The history of the college is nothing short of fascinating. Back at the turn of the century, Belfast Corporation was made up of aldermen, almost all of whom were the city's business leaders.

110 years of leading the city to work, while making skills and education relevant

Belfast was one of the largest industrial centres in the empire and the Corporation had to have vision.

This was a group of men who bought nine acres in the Mournes to make sure Belfast had a water supply, and who set up the Gasworks to gasify the city. So when they realised that Belfast needed a technical institute, they set one up.

And they did it in style, building a huge four-storey building with state-of-the-art wood panelling and tiling throughout, not to mention a heating system that lasted many years into the future.

The ethos was to provide technical skills for everyone and to serve the industrial and commercial base. In those days, that meant everything from haberdashery to engineering and even pharmacy.

The college in present day

Today, Belfast Met is still very much leading the city to work. We provide full-time and part-time programmes that are accessible, flexible and industry-endorsed, with strategic links to the local business community and to employers.

Our 110th anniversary also coincides with a £1 million investment in upgrading the teaching and training facilities at the e3 building on the Springvale campus and the launch of our brand new Belfast Business School, early next year – the first of its kind in the UK.

One of our strengths at the college is our creative provision, with our students leading the way in competitions, both locally and internationally.

Student success stories

Recent successes include Belfast Met students Caolan McLaverty, Stephen McShannock and Mark Reed scooping Northern Ireland Colleges Best Award Software prize for the fifth year running for their work-based learning web project with Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Foundation Degree iMedia student Matthew Owens was named runner-up in the Adobe Certified Associate Competition – the only student from Ireland to compete in the UK finals.

One of our fashion students, Chloe Hawe, is in the running to become the Wedding Journal’s Favourite Young Designer for her beautiful wedding dress design.

Another talented Foundation Art and Design student is exhibiting in the Ulster Museum as part of the prestigious RUA exhibition.

We provide full-time and part-time programmes that are accessible, flexible and industry-endorsed

Higher National Diploma Music students, Conor McCaffrey, Odhran Bryson and Connall Ennis, were involved in a workshop for Belfast Urban Affinity, held at Oh Yeah centre.

It involved demonstrating local music to young people with learning difficulties and encouraging them to participate. 

I was also extremely proud to see the college’s first year HND Music class provide music for over 1000 people at the Belfast Met graduation ceremonies at Titanic Belfast and the Titanic Quarter campus. 

Piper Bradley Parker led academic procession in and out, singer-songwriter Cora Kelly provided entertainment before each ceremony and several pianists played at the rear of the auditorium at the end of each ceremony.  Singer-songwriters also entertained guests after the ceremonies at the college’s Titanic Quarter campus.

In addition to this we have had a wave of successes from across all of our areas including barbering and culinary arts.

Belfast Met is holding a series of open days and events during which the public can find out more about courses and training available. This includes a part-time open day on January 10 and a full-time open day in February.

The college is also participating in the NI Festival of Learning and will be running a series of interactive demos and taster sessions on March 23, also in the TQ campus.

To find out more about the open days and the NI Festival of Leaning, log onto belfastmet.ac.uk or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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