IT Sligo has received a prestigious “Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Award” in recognition of its role in increasing access to higher education for part-time and distance learners through online delivery.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD presented the award at a conference in Dublin Castle.
Speaking about the award Professor Terri Scott, President of IT Sligo paid tribute to staff who pioneered the delivery of online learning to students around the globe, many of whom combine busy careers with distance learning.
IT Sligo was one of 20 public service agencies, selected for the 2012 awards, out of a total of 190 applications.
Professor Scott pointed out that students based in Dublin, Cork, Southampton, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Canada, New Mexico, Arizona, New York, Israel and Holland were among the cohort of IT Sligo students who completed their end of year exams in recent weeks.
When IT Sligo launched its first online degree courses in 2002, five students availed of the ground breaking facility. In 2011 almost 800 students enrolled on 26 online programmes, and with demand rising by 20 per cent every year, the Institute is now a leader in Ireland in the provision of online learning.
“We have an exceptionally talented team of staff who are pioneers in the development and delivery of online learning,” said Professor Scott. “Online learning delivers benefits for staff, students and employers. Everyone wins”.
Brian Mulligan, a programme manager at the Centre for Online Learning in IT Sligo said that the real value of online learning was that it enabled students to participate in education, without requiring them to be physically present on the campus, or to take leave from work.
“We regularly get emails from students pointing out how beneficial it was for their career development, and also how they could not have accessed such education at all if it were not for the online courses from IT Sligo,” explained Mr Mulligan.
Professor Scott said the Institute would continue to liaise with industry and prospective students in order to meet the demand in growing sectors. “Online programmes provide access and international reach to higher education programmes, for companies and individuals seeking to up-skill,” she pointed out. “Our experience in delivering accredited tailored programmes has earned the Institute a reputation of having high quality relevant programmes that meet needs of a constantly changing industry”.
IT Sligo has worked closely on staff training with a wide range of leading multinational companies including Coca Cola, Masonite International, Abbott Ireland and Baxter.
Its collaboration with Merck Sharp Dohme (MSD) based at Brinny, Co Cork and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research & Training (NIBRT) was recognised earlier this year when the company, received an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2012 IITD (Irish Institute of Training & Development) Awards ceremony. IT Sligo is providing online education to 67 MSD employees across all levels of the organisation.
Fergal O’Donovan, Director of Technical Services at MSD, has undertaken a Masters in Biopharmaceutical Processing online through IT Sligo. He said: “Continuous education, personnel development and up-skilling are a key enabler to success in today’s competitive environment. Finding the time for professional development and further education is hard in today’s workplace. However, the programmes are of excellent value and greatly facilitate the balance between on-going education and demands in the work place. From personal experience the IT Sligo/NIBRT distant learning programmes are flexible, value add and industry friendly.
Professor Scott stressed that IT Sligo’s comprehensive online education resources were helping individuals as well as multinational companies. “We are pleased to have 235 places on our online programmes approved for funding this year under the Government’s Springboard initiative which covers the fees for successful applicants,” she said.
Increasingly full-time students want the option of online modules. “We are delighted that our full-time students now have 24/7 access to laboratories so they can do assignments from home at any time that suits them,” said Professor Scott.
To read more about the Awards click here.