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Garda graduates march to an educational beat at University of Limerick

Dr Mary Fitzpatrick, Acting Dean of Teaching and Learning at UL, with some of the members of An Garda Siochana, who received the Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship Picture: Don Moloney
Mon, 02 Sep 2019

A large batch of gardai were on hand to police matters as graduations came to a close at University of Limerick.

Included among the more than 3,400 students conferred at ceremonies in UL last week were 33 members of An Garda Siochana, who received the Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship on Friday.

Dr Mary Fitzpatrick, Acting Dean of Teaching and Learning at UL, said that the “second cohort of Garda instructors from the Garda College – 33 in total – graduated after completing the course over the last two years.

“These instructors have come from the force, operating within all of the different areas of An Garda Siochana, and are now based in Templemore teaching,” she explained.

“This programme allows them to validate their expertise in teaching their area of discipline to the next wave of garda recruits.”

Dr Fitzpatrick described the close connection established between UL and the Garda Training College in Templemore as “fantastic”.

“It has been absolutely wonderful to work with the Garda College to develop this bespoke course since 2014. It has been a very fruitful relationship all round,” she outlined.

The Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship was developed in response to the proposed framework for mapping professional development in higher education from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

It provides graduates with high-level, scholarly, practice-based professional development to ensure competence in the areas of teaching, learning and scholarship within their professional contexts.

The members of An Garda Siochana who graduated this Friday from UL are now equipped with a range of skills, competencies, insights and capacities which will ensure that they bring the highest quality teaching and learning experiences to the students at Templemore’s Garda College, Dr Fitzpatrick explained.

The programme was initially designed for UL academics but then customised to suit the Garda Training College and Inspector Patrick Guinan, who is attached to Templemore, said: “The link between UL and An Garda Siochana is essential at the moment as UL accredits the BA in Applied Policing where the relationship is fundamental in underpinning the work done at the Garda College.”

As serving members, Friday’s 33 graduates undertook their course while also fulfilling the requirements of their full-time jobs and Insp Guinan said that the reward was “huge” as it now accredits these tutors in the work done at Templemore.  

“This really validates their teaching as they bring their work life experience into the role. They can convey their operational experience to Garda recruits in a manner that is hugely beneficial after the learning achieved at UL,” he said.

Friday’s ceremony brought six days of conferring ceremonies at UL to a close where the thousands of graduates were urged by UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald to use “the skills and the education you have been given to be leaders in whatever it is that you do”.

“Increasingly, leadership in the community, in industry and in government, is a key requirement in how people become engaged in society. We expect our graduates to be leaders in enterprise, government and community,” he added.

The UL President described the August 2019 conferrings as a “very special week for us. It is when all the work that has been done by the academics and the students culminate into a great event.

“We get to bring the families in, it is a very joyous occasion for us, and really for the students, it marks a very important time in their period in the college – when they graduate and become alumni and are no longer students of the institution,” he added.