IT Sligo President, Professor Terri Scott, has told new graduates that a future Technological University in Connacht-Ulster would collaborate with industry and economic leaders to ensure it becomes a catalyst for prosperity across the region.
Professor Scott is one of the leaders of the Connacht-Ulster Alliance (CUA), a three-pronged strategic partnership launched last year with the goal of achieving the establishment of Technological University.
Opening Institute of Technology Sligo’s annual conferring ceremonies, she said: “The Institute’s partnership with Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, known as the Connacht Ulster Alliance, is already maturing.
“Let me repeat what I said to the Taoiseach when he visited us here a few weeks ago. The Alliance is not the end, merely the means to an end, an evolutionary path towards the establishment of a technological university for this region. “
Some 2,000 students are graduating during two days of ceremonies. Families, friends and other guests joined in the celebrations at the Knocknarea Arena in the heart of the 70 acre campus as Professor Scott presented parchments to the students marking the successful culmination of their years of intensive study, practical research and project work at the Institute.
Degrees are being presented to students who undertook courses at the School of Business and Social Science, School of Engineering and Design and School of Science.
The awards, which include Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy as well as Postgraduate Diplomas and Higher Certificates, reflect the range of subjects taught in the Schools’ specialist teaching Departments and their wide variety of research areas.
Among the subjects covered in Thursday’s conferring sessions are awards in Electronic Engineering, Mechatronics, Quantity Surveying, Advanced Wood and Sustainability, Interior Architecture, Forensic Investigation and Analysis, Biomedical Science, Pharmaceutical Science, Applied Archaeology, Creative Design, Fine Art, Performing Arts and Social Care Practice.
Friday’s ceremonies include Business awards in Accounting, Marketing in Event Management & PR, Applied Tourism, Recreation & Leisure and awards in Computing in Systems and Networks, Computing in Games Development.
The annual Corn Sheáin Mhic Mhagnais award, established by former IT Sligo Chairman the late Seán McManus, will be awarded to John Joe Gillen, a Lecturer in Accounting who has led the introduction of professional accountancy programmes at the institute.
In her address, Professor Scott firmly underlined the CUA’s determination to achieve its Technological University objective.
She said: “We aspire to creating a model of its kind that will allow us to make a more direct contribution to job creation and economic growth in the North West. Such a development would serve as a much needed catalyst to accelerated and sustained revival in our community’s level of prosperity.
“An important part of the outreach mission of the new university would be to institute a structured, active and ongoing conversation with industrialists and other economic leaders in the wider region. Our compass is set firmly towards that destination.”
Other key points in her address were:
- “The Class of 2013 have brought distinction to themselves, to the Institute and to the silent partners in higher education — their dedicated and supportive families.
- “The Sligo ‘brand’ of higher education, which their success has done much to enhance, continues to flourish, with demand not only in Ireland but from much further afield.
- “This academic year, we were delighted to see a 70% increase in international students who have come to IT Sligo from the USA, Canada, China, Brazil and the Middle East. Our new international students represent a vote of confidence in the quality of our staff and our courses.
- “Earlier this week over 2,000 new online learners from 41 counties commenced our first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Last month when the Taoiseach visited the campus he commended the leadership of this institute and our achievements in extending access to higher education through innovation and our worldwide virtual foot print.
- “Research saw outstanding achievement in a ten-fold increase, from €250K to €2.5 million of external funding in crucially important areas of investigation in the School of Science alone.
- “In recent weeks the government has announced that we have exited recession on the back of export growth and a rise in consumer spending and that Ireland’s economic sovereignty is on the way to being reclaimed. However, we are still only past the foothills of recovery.
- “There is, thankfully, evidence to confirm the clouds above this day of celebration are beginning to lift. I firmly concur with the view that austerity must be ameliorated in 2014 or it will, ‘jeopardise our fragile recovery’.
- “We are thrilled this month to welcome a new arrival in Sligo of Overstock.com, a company from Utah in the United states that has begun operations here on campus and already begun recruiting for the 45 software development posts they are bringing to Sligo.
- “The recasting of our economy was given impetus earlier this week by a report from government’s Expert Group on Future Skills Needs which has predicted nearly 45,000 new openings in technology related sectors.
- “Earlier this year we were delighted when Allergan Pharmaceuticals Ireland announced an investment of over $350 million in its Westport operation to expand both its development and manufacturing capabilities. The expansion will result in the creation of 200 new jobs at the site over the next four years.
- Abbot and GSK have together invested in excess of 100m here in Sligo. This is a welcome vote of confidence in the calibre of graduates and the talent available to these companies.
- “This year saw the completion of phase 1 of a new building programme in the School of Science. This includes new technical staff, laboratory and office space, research instrumentation areas and online delivery suite and a new Science Materials Laboratory.
- “The crane overhead notes that 2014 will see completion of phase 2 of this €17.5 million project. We will also have a new modern recreational and dining facility to enhance the facilities for our staff and students. “
- “”If anything demonstrates the breadth of our mission it is the success of two students graduating today with MSc by Research in Archaeology. Frank Johnson and Stephen Dixon are both graduates of our BSc in Applied Archaeology. They are mature students and Frank is a retired teacher who is 80 years of age. They give eloquent expression to the term lifelong learning.”
William Mahon, from Moyvore, near Mullingar, Co Westmeath, with his three year old son, Liam. William received a BSC (Hons) in Quality Management & Technology, Level 8, at the IT Sligo graduation ceremonies.
BA in Interior Architecture, Level 7, graduates Sarah-Jayne Durkan, from Charlestown, Co Mayo, Awa Musa,Sligo and Tramaine Moses, Galway, after the conferring ceremonies at IT Sligo.
Graduates from the Class of 2013 celebrate after their conferrals at IT Sligo.