Call for Digital Learning Hub to be established in Kilkenny . File pic.
Following a presentation on future plans for the Technical University of the South East at the monthly meeting of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr Maria Dollard is asking the long called for university campus for Kilkenny be a model that is innovative and futuristic, attracting students to Kilkenny because of its rich cultural capital and wonderful social life more than the attracting them for one or two specific courses.
A graduate of the sadly closed Kilkenny Campus of Maynooth, where she completed a Masters in Adult and Community Education, Maria is well aware of the benefits of education across the lifetime.
The Green Party Councillor has over 20 years’ experience teaching and lecturing in Adult Education and with UCC on their Diploma in Autism Studies course, so has a unique insight into how this sector operates and is likely to operate into the future as we move from face to face to a model that is hybrid or even completely online.
“The students of the future will see many of their courses move at least partly online but won’t want to miss out on the campus university feeling and the social and night life that goes with it. Kilkenny is ideally placed with its mix of great pubs and nightlife, not to mention our fantastic festivals and cultural events. We are a very attractive city for students and with great connectivity by bus to both Waterford and Carlow, we have the perfect place for a student population looking for a great student experience and city feel without the prices many are forced to pay in larger centres of population. The TUSEI will bring fantastic opportunities for Kilkenny if we can get some basic infrastructure right,” she said
The Green Party councillor believes that if we are prepared to offer affordable student accommodation and a state-of-the-art Digital Learning Hub for students, that we can attract students to the city, who will be studying across a wide range of subject areas and who can be at a Waterford or Carlow administrative base as quickly as they would be travelling from some parts of Dublin to any of the universities there.
Westmeath County Council have already taken this approach in collaboration with Athlone IT, by opening the AIT Learning Gate in Mullingar. This facility allows students to study remotely and has been a great success, especially in the area of adult and lifelong learning.
“I believe we can be even more ambitious and attract students studying on courses in many different universities to create learning communities based in Kilkenny but linked in to TUSEI or indeed many other universities all over Ireland and indeed the world. Work is moving in the direction of being fully distributed or remote for so many people and most people including students have already said they do not want to go back to the daily grind of a commute.
"TUSEI appear to be ready willing and able to embrace the new reality of third and fourth level education and I believe Kilkenny can be a leader in showing how to work collaboratively with our partners in TUSEI to make the future a reality."
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