IT Sligo has signed up to a nationwide initiative intensifying the involvement of Higher Education bodies in the life of the community.
Twenty institutions spanning third level education in Ireland took part in an official launch by the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Ruairi Quinn TD, at Dublin Castle.
The “Campus Engage Charter on Civic and Community Engagement” builds on pioneering similar national agreements supported by institutions in other countries including Australia, UK and the US.
The 10 point declaration underscores the commitment of the signatory institutions to civic and community engagement roles and responsibilities.
Ms Ann Higgins, Head of Department of Marketing, Tourism and Sport, represented the IT Sligo President, Professor Terri Scott, at the event.
The charter has been developed by Campus Engage, a HEA funded national initiative which works with 17 higher education institutions to enable and embed civic and community engagement activity across campuses and communities.
Campus Engage promotes community-based research, community-based learning and volunteering. Hundreds of community-based organisations currently work in these fields with the staff and students of the participating higher education institutions.
Congratulating the charter’s signatories, Mr Quinn said “Today is an important recognition of commitment by Ireland’s higher education institutions to build on what has been achieved to date and place Ireland at the fore internationally in terms of promoting civic and community engagement by higher education.
“The importance of ‘engagement’ is recognised in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 and in the HEA’s performance framework, which both ask higher education institutions to engage openly with their community and wider society and for this to infuse every aspect of their mission.”
Mr Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Chair of Institutes of Technology Ireland, said, “This Irish Charter aligns us with best practice and captures the essential principles and the underlying purpose of engagement with communities as well as with enterprise.”
Dr. Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the Irish Universities Association, said, “Civic engagement benefits both students and communities. Students get transferrable, ‘work-ready’ skills through accredited learning realised in volunteering, and community-based research and learning. These activities improve students’ capacity for problem-solving and critical thinking. Communities are enhanced by students’ energy and engagement with the public good.”
Pictured: Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Ruairi Quinn TD, with Higher Education institution presidents and representatives, including Ms Ann Higgins (second left), representing IT Sligo, at the “Campus Engage Charter” signing ceremony