WATCH: ‘No Mask - No Class’ policy as Limerick Institute of Technology prepares for return of students

Donn O'Sullivan, editor

Reporter:

Donn O'Sullivan, editor

Email:

donn.osullivan@limerickleader.ie

A POST Covid-19 semester was always going to be ‘different’ for staff and students at LIT's campuses, but the calendar year ahead has the potential to be the most historic yet.

The college is set to welcome back students on Monday September 14, (First years on Monday 28) with a policy of ‘No Mask - No Class’ at the forefront of an extensive planning operation to allow students be physically on campus as the new year begins.

“The safety of our staff and students is of paramount importance so we have adapted our teaching and on-campus experiences to facilitate the delivery of education in a safe environment.

“We will also be asking students and staff to exercise personal responsibility as we all work together to keep our community as safe as possible,” admitted Professor Vincent Cunnane when speaking to the Limerick Leader this week.

“Every student, will be on campus, every week. That was the basic premise we wanted to start with.

“We have a lot of students who are first generation third level students, and we need to maintain the community feel of the college and we do that by bringing them on campus.

“We can do more online once we have established that initial face to face time.” he continued.

Staff began the preparations for a return to learning on the basis that every single student could avail of college facilities.

“Planning was key. We have days of face to face and days of online. It is more practiced based in some courses more than others. For example, our marketing and business course will be one day a week on site, while our apprenticeship will be four to five days on the campus” Cunnane continued.

The news of a safe return to college comes on the back of news that Limerick is set to have two universities by next September.

LIT has moved a step closer to developing a new technological university (TU) for the Mid-West region.

Earlier this year the college announced that it is forming a consortium with Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) to form a new TU in the Mid-West and Midlands.

This follows commitment by the Government to invest €90m in institutions to form TUs over the next three years.

“By next September, the LIT signs will be coming down and new university branding will take their place. It will be emotional moment for all our staff” confirmed President Cunnane.

“The entity that is LIT will cease to exist and a new, TU (name to be confirmed) will take its place.

“LIT and AIT’s application is aimed at developing a new unique university with a strengthened regional focus that will benefit our staff, our students and the communities we serve.”

Prof Cunnane said that their intention is to build a new type of “networked university with the River Shannon forming its spine.

“We will enhance our regional focus and our collaboration with partners here in the Mid-West”

With LIT already having the highest rate of full-time employment in any higher education institution outside of Dublin, with more students going into work upon graduation, the future was already bright for the Moylish, Clare St, Ennis, Clonmel and Thurles based college.

More than three quarters of LIT graduates are in full time employment, with 91% of graduates in employment or further study within nine months of graduating, the latest HEA Graduate Outcome Survey has shown.

With University status on the horizon, the year ahead, all be it redefined due to a global pandemic, is set to be a year like no other for the college students, staff and stakeholders alike.

The final message from Professor Cunnane, ahead of an exciting 12 months? - “We are ready”