Athlone IT President encourages students to put higher education on election agenda

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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The president of Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) has encouraged the Class of 2015 to question politicians on their higher education policies in the build-up to the next general election.

Prof. Ciar n Cathain, made his remarks to 2,000 graduates at conferring ceremonies in Athlone.

He encouraged the graduates to be active champions for higher education. As new graduates, you have directly experienced the benefits of higher education, you are aware of the rewards that it can deliver. Equally, you are aware of the stresses upon the higher education system, in particular, the challenges caused by the severe shortfall in funding, he said.

State investment in higher education, he stated, has dropped by 20% between 2010 and 2015. On the capital side investment in buildings and infrastructure the decrease is 50%. This is at the same time that student numbers in third level have continually grown.

The Athlone IT President encouraged the Class of 2015 that as the country builds towards the general election, that you ask the politicians who coming knocking on your doors, what their policy is on higher education. How important do they believe it is to invest in our young people What would they do to ensure that Irish higher education institutions are top of the class

The decisions that the next government makes with regard to third level will have consequences for generations to come. We must ensure that those decisions are the right ones, the president stated.

Prof. Cathain has previously criticised the government for paying lip service to the importance of higher education institutions and their roles in the knowledge industry and economy . In an address to the Royal Irish Academy in September, he accused politicians of caring more about seagulls than the 215,000 students in third level.

In his address, Prof. Cathain, also also offered words of encouragement to the new graduates. Referring to Einstein s comment that A ship is always safe at the shore but that is not what it is built for, he advised them to be brave, be bold in your ambitions. Strive to realise nothing less than your dreams and you will honour the talents and abilities which you have worked hard to develop these past number of years. Be proud ambassadors for yourselves, your families, your communities and AIT, he concluded.

More than 2,000 graduates were conferred with awards ranging from higher certificate to PhD at AIT.

Frank Bolger

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