GMIT students meet An Taoiseach and new GMIT President
Increasing employment prospects for those with a degree – Dr Fergal Barry
First year students in GMIT Mayo received a warm welcome to the Mayo campus in Castlebar from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and GMIT’s incoming President, Dr Fergal Barry, during a welcome-induction event at the start of the college term.
Dr Barry and Mr Kenny addressed the gathering of new students in St Mary’s Hall, which was also attended by lecturers, support staff and some parents.
Dr Barry said that the future is looking very bright for young people who work hard and aim high.
“Employment projections for advanced knowledge-based economies like Ireland indicate that 67% of those in the workforce of the future will have higher level qualifications or a degree, meaning students’ chances of employment will have significantly improved in another four years’ time upon graduation”.
Mr Kenny and Dr Barry met three first year students; Louise Kenneally from Cork city and Saoirse Ni Bhroin from Quinn, Co Clare, who are both studying the Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree in Outdoor Education & Leisure, and Marita Molloy from Ballina, Co Mayo, who is studying the Bachelor of Business (honours) in Accounting. They also met GMIT Students Union President Declan Murphy from Moorehall, Casltebar, who is a graduate of the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Social Care programme.
The SU President welcomed GMIT’s proposed involvement in the planned new National Outdoor Pursuits Academy, saying: “The Student Union together with our colleague Nigel Jennings, GMIT Sports Officer, have been hosting local and national sports events on campus and around Castlebar for many years such as the kayaking and surfing intervarsities. We’re delighted to have this new sports academy on our doorstep. It’s an investment in the local area and will also harness the talents of our Outdoor Education degree students and all students.”
Construction on the first phase of the new €11m National Outdoor Pursuits Academy at Lough Lannagh is expected to start later this month (October). The development is being led by Mayo County Council with support from the Castlebar Community Development Association as well as GMITs proposed involvement. It will accommodate a 25 metre pool with eight lanes, a gymnasium, aerobics studio, climbing wall, changing facilities and storage gear facility (for wet gear, kayaks) and several small lecture halls/seminar rooms.
First year student Saoirse Ni Bhroin from Co Clare said she was delighted to meet the Taoiseach, adding that the ‘Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree in Outdoor Education & Leisure was her first choice on the CAO.”
Dr Fergal Barry comes to GMIT from Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) where he was Vice President of Research, Development & Enterprise. He has a background in Science with academic qualifications from institutions including LIT and CIT, as well as a Ph.D. from UL and an MBA from UCC.
During his tenure as Vice President of Research, Development & Enterprise in LIT, Dr Barry built up its research capacity to an annual revenue stream of over €5m towards projects in Science, Engineering and Art and Design, involving up to 150 post-graduate research students and full-time research staff.
He developed LIT’s unique national profile as a leader in third-level enterprise supports, with six centres fully operational and one more under construction across the Mid West region. These centres created 600 jobs and include the Hartnett Enterprise Centre on the main campus, the National Franchise Centre in Limerick City Centre, Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre and Questum Centre co-located with LIT’s Tipperary campuses, and one more due to open soon- the International Fashion Incubator in Limerick.