Minister Simon Harris Visits Sligo Education Settings

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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; Mr Simon Harris, TD paid a visit to the North West on Wednesday the 25th of August, meeting staff and students at Sligo’s two third level institutions; St. Angela’s College and IT Sligo, as well as the Sligo branch of the Education and Training Board (MSLETB).

The Minister visited with the educational institutes to discuss an array of issues and meet with staff before the re-opening of campuses to students next month.

Speaking during his visit to Sligo, the Minister said: “I’m delighted to visit Sligo today, and I’m only sorry that the pandemic prevented it until now. Sligo has fantastic further and higher education options that are available to everyone, regardless of age or anything else, and I was very happy to hear that directly from students and staff here. Making sure that people can learn and work in their own area, that they don’t have to leave to succeed, is so important to me and my Department, and I look forward to the new Technological University become a reality in the near future.

Getting students and staff safely back on campus this autumn is a priority for me, and I am glad to see that plans are proceeding well in Sligo to achieve this.”

Minister Harris visited St. Angela’s College where he met the College Management Team, students and staff. Following a brief presentation, Minister Harris was invited on a campus tour led by Acting President, Dr Edel McSharry. ‘Hosting Minister Harris for this visit was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the College and the standard of teaching we offer’ explains Dr McSharry ‘Our campus is truly unique with its strong focus and expertise in the delivery of professionally accredited programmes of home economics, teacher education and nursing. We’re now at a pivotal point to further develop our facilities to enhance our students’ experience’.

St. Angela’s College have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with plans to be incorporated into IT Sligo as they progress towards becoming a Technological University in early 2022, ensuring Sligo becomes a strong University town to attract students from across the region and a diverse range of national and international students. Minister Harris shared his strong support for the proposed IT Sligo incorporation, acknowledging the benefits for all involved and what it would bring to the North West region. St. Angela’s College have been pro-active in completing work with IT Sligo, work required in order to meet their timeframe for TU application. It was clear to see that both institutions welcome this merger and will work tirelessly to ensure it comes to fruition.

Minister Harris then visited IT Sligo where he met staff, researchers and representatives from the Students Union. The Minister also inspected plans for the €30 million capital development on the campus with construction work commencing in the coming weeks.

The Minister also officially launched the €10 million SCORE project, funded under Horizon 2020 with a consortium of EU partners led by IT Sligo that aims to increase climate resilience in European coastal cities.

SCORE (Smart Control of the Climate Resilience in European Coastal Cities), outlines a comprehensive strategy, developed via a network of 10 coastal city ‘living labs’, to rapidly, equitably and sustainably enhance coastal city climate resilience though an Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) supported by sophisticated digital technologies.

This was followed by a meeting between the Minister and senior management of IT Sligo including the President, Dr Brendan McCormack, Chair, Mr Niall O’Donnellan, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Registrar, Dr Michele Glacken, and the President of IT Sligo Students’ Union, Dáire Martin, to discuss the safe return of students to on-campus learning this September and the process leading to Technological University designation in early 2022.

Speaking after the meeting Dr McCormack, thanked the Minister for his visit;

“We had an excellent meeting with the Minister discussing the many major developments happening at IT Sligo in the coming year. The safe return of our students to on-site learning is our immediate priority and we share the Minister’s ambitions to get as many students back on campus as we can safely achieve. Our second priority for the next few months is to plan the amalgamation with our Connaught Ulster Alliance partners, GMIT and LYIT as we become a Technological University in early 2022.”

The Minister met with researchers and apprentices before visiting the Sligo branch of the Education and Training Board.