Colleges Northern Ireland is the membership body promoting, supporting and representing Northern Ireland's Six Further and Higher Education Colleges.
CNI activities include providing the voice for the College sector; advocacy on behalf of the sector, including lobbying government departments and other agencies; providing a platform for its member colleges; providing an interface between the colleges and a wide range of stakeholders; supporting colleges in a range of activities and managing initiatives on behalf of the sector; and building consensus on policy on behalf of the Colleges.
Colleges collectively provide learning to over 90,000 students; 157,000 enrolments annually; have a turnover of circa £260m; work with over 7,500 business across NI; have 45% of their learners from the top 40% deprived wards in NI; have a retention rate of 89% and an achievement rate of 87%; account for 18% of all Higher Education students in NI; result in 70% of learners going into employment on completing their FE course.
Northern Ireland’s six Regional Colleges operate across 40+ campuses and through over 400 outreach community locations. The FE Colleges are the main providers of vocational and technical education and training in NI. The sector plays a central role in raising levels of literacy and numeracy and in up-skilling and re-skilling the population through a broad range of course. College provision range from GCSEs and A levels to BTECs, HNCs, Foundation Degrees, Apprenticeships, Degrees and other specific training programmes.
Northern Ireland’s six Regional Colleges are also key economic drivers. They directly meet the training needs of local and international companies and provide a full suite of Business Support Services, including product development and rapid prototyping. The Colleges are the largest provider of professional and technical training in the region. They make a significant high quality contribution to addressing the current and future skills needs of local and regional business.
Supporting STEM - from its inaugural year in 2010/11, the BEST Awards have grown to become a major showcase for creativity and innovation across Northern Ireland's colleges. With a particular focus on the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the BEST Awards were created to support students in their project based learning throughout the year, culminating in a Grand Finals Day which in this present academic year will be in May 2014.