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- LIT President called on new Minister for Education to review Third Level Education Blueprint during Conferring Speech.
- 1,600 Students graduate from LIT this year.

The President of LIT has challenged the validity of the current blueprint for Irish third level education – the seven-year-old Hunt Report.

During the opening 2018 LIT conferring ceremony in the Moylish Campus,  Wednesday, October 31, 2018, Professor Vincent Cunnane questioned whether the blueprint published in 2011 is still relevant for the sector and the challenges it now faces.

In the course of his address Prof Cunnane also revealed the results of the HEA’s Graduate Employment Survey of 2017, which shows that 95% of last year’s LIT graduating class either went directly into employment or further study.

“That means that only 5% were looking for employment after graduation. This figure is particularly significant when compared to the national youth unemployment rate of 13.9%,” he said.

“And its not that people are going into poorly paid jobs in other parts of the country, or that they have to emigrate. The average salary for someone graduating from LIT last year was just over €26,000, with one third of those graduates on a salary of over €30,000 per year. About three quarters of last year’s LIT graduates are working in Limerick, Clare or Tipperary.

“Results like this do not happen by accident. They happen because the staff of LIT work hard to deliver an education that makes students as work-ready as possible. LIT graduates are plugged into the economy,” he told the class of 2018.

“This creates a virtuous cycle. You get good jobs, and employers invest here in the Mid West because you have the skills, the knowledge and the attitude that the modern workplace needs.”

Prof Cunnane explained that to ensure LIT graduates are prepared for a changing workforce, staff at LIT challenge themselves everyday to progress and develop courses to meet the demands of industry.

Many of these ambitions and targets are set out in LIT’s Strategic Plan, launched this year, which puts it on a trajectory to become a Technological University, underpinned by the values of support, accessibility, equity, innovation and excellence.

Meanwhile the Hunt Report, published in 2011 outlines Government policy which includes the imperative that institutes of technology should merge, face more international competition, and fundamentally change.

Prof Cunnane questioned,

“If 95% of our graduates are in employment or further study, if students are coming to us from diverse backgrounds, if we are retaining more students in college, if we are keeping people here in this region, I want to know what we are doing wrong and why we must change so fundamentally? We work for you, your communities, our regional economy and our society. We are delivering.”

He called on the newly appointed Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh to review the Hunt Report “in light of the environment we find ourselves in today.”

“The reality is that the challenges this sector faces are very different from when the Hunt Report was published. The biggest challenges to us lies in a policy written in a different time for a different country,” he said.

Approximately 1,600 students from LIT will graduate over five different days in diverse areas ranging from fashion design to marketing; engineering and construction to animation and motion design; and social science to hospitality.

Congratulating the graduates and wishing them well in their future careers Prof Cunnane said,

“You graduates have received your education from an institution whose roots in technical and artistic education go right back to the foundation of the Limerick Athenaeum in 1856. You now join a long line of graduates who have gone before you to take their place in society and to help mould it.

“You graduate today with the knowledge that you have a good education and knowing you have an internationally recognised and respected qualification. I know the staff here are proud of you. I am proud of you. I hope you share that pride, and that your families and communities do too.”

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