University of Limerick President Dr Des Fitzgerald has urged the thousands of students graduating this week to be “leaders in whatever it is that you do”.
More than 3,400 students are graduating from University of Limerick as the August 2019 conferring takes place.
This Monday saw the conferring of graduates from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, with another four days of ceremonies to take place this week.
UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald said it was 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”.
With the employment record of UL graduates consistently higher than the national average, Dr Fitzgerald urged the graduates 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.
Dr Fitzgerald also called on government to indicate how it will “decide to support the university sector so that it can compete internationally and continue to support the economy”.
“We need to have a roadmap for how we are going to develop the institutions to reach the very stretching target that the government has of a 30% increase in the number of students attending universities,” he outlined.
“For us, that would mean that by 2030 we would have another 5,000 students, bringing us up to 20,000 students. That has to be funded, we have to be able to expand facilities, but we need to be able to hire more staff and develop new technologies for delivering educational programmes.
“At the moment, it is going the other way – we have had a 30% drop in government funding since 2008, and we have had to make that up by bringing in more postgraduate students, more international students and having more commercial activity,” he added.
The week started with the first ever cohort of graduates from the Postgraduate Diploma in School Leadership on Sunday, a programme hailed by Dr Fitzgerald as “a ground breaking initiative and it sits comfortably with UL where innovation in education is in our DNA and where we create new models of education and new tools to meet the challenges of a changing world.
“That change will begin with us here in UL. We will need to continue to invest – in physical assets, in our structures, in our personnel and our skills, most importantly we will continue to invest in our management and governance so that we can ensure that we are fit for purpose and that we can maintain the trust and support of our key stakeholders.”