CHEAP bites and gigabytes are the attractions of a €750,000 canteen opened by Limerick Institute of Technology to coincide with the beginning of the academic year.
Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan served up healthy breakfasts to the early birds who showed up for the official opening of The Green Rooms at the Moylish campus on Monday morning.
More than just a canteen, the college describes the facility as “a dining space that doubles as a dynamic social-learning environment that encourages peer study interaction”.
Student feedback in relation to dining facilities had identified IT as a deficit and the “re-imagination of the dining space includes a range of initiatives, from the introduction of the institute’s gigabit internet link via high-speed wireless access to USB ports throughout the dining area”.
And if a healthy mind needs a healthy body, LIT promises nutritious meals, subsidised by the college for as little as €3 a sitting, to keep its charges energised. A lunch in the Green Rooms costs less than half what a snackbox might down the road and the college estimates students can save over €300 a year by eating there.
Commenting after she chowed down with the students, Minister O’Sullivan said: “I commend LIT on this initiative, not just because it is so important for student experience that they get healthy and affordable food but this is really an excellent and creative use as space as they have transformed it into a learning environment also”.
And the Green Rooms, according to college president Dr Maria Hinfelaar, are but an appetiser for the €200 million LIT Campus 2030 Masterplan which will add 50,000 square metres to the campus.
“This investment,” she said, “is in keeping with LIT’s philosophy which puts the student experience at its centre and also recognises the importance of peer learning and group interaction. Our masterplan puts social space at the heart of our campuses to enable this.”
With 1,700 first year students enrolling at LIT this September, Dr Hinfelaar added: “this approach is not just right but opportune for LIT as, until we can press ahead with this much-needed expansion, we have to adapt and maximise how we use existing space. We are severely restricted in terms of capacity as we have a main campus here that was built for 2,000 students and currently accommodates 4,000.
“This is a major challenge for us and is due to growing demand, both nationally and internationally, for places on many of our courses, particularly in areas such as mechanical engineering, technology and hospitality,” said Dr Hinfelaar.