NUI Galway Pioneers Third-Level Education in Connemara

Friday, 13 October 2006

………..supporting sustainable knowledge-based Gaeltacht economies…………….

13 October 2006: Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D., Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs today (Friday), at the official opening of the newly refurbished NUI Galway's centre in An Cheathrú Rua, commended NUI Galway's commitment to addressing the demand for highly-skilled, Irish speaking professionals through its educational programmes. The University has developed a network of Gaeltacht-based centres which are run by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI Galway's national institute pioneering third-level education through the Irish language. NUI Galway's commitment and focus on the development and provision of third level courses in Gaeltacht areas will contribute in a positive manner to the social, economic, cultural and linguistic life of these regions.

The University's centres provide programmes from undergraduate to postgraduate levels in areas such as; applied language skills, translation studies, information technology, communication studies, teaching methodology, drama studies and language planning. In addition, NUI Galway now offers Ireland's first B.A. in Communications, as Gaeilge, at its centre in An Cheathrú Rua, Co. Galway. These innovative and flexible programmes help nurture enterprise initiatives as well as promoting businesses which are related to the Gaeltacht regions' uniqueness in knowledge intensive fields such as eco- and cultural tourism, music, arts, education and multimedia.

Increased demand for highly qualified professionals working through Irish has been triggered by official status being granted by the EU to the Irish language. The implementation of the Irish Language Act has also increased the use of Irish in government institutions which in turn creates a demand for professional translators and interpreters. NUI Galway is demonstrating leadership in ensuring that there is a constant supply of highly skilled graduates in translation, interpretation and applied language skills to meet this demand.

Minister Ó Cuív stated, "There is a requirement for highly-skilled graduates who are competent to work through Irish in a range of disciplines. I congratulate NUI Galway for implementing innovative Irish-medium programmes and research activities in Gaeltacht centres, in partnership with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Údarás na Gaeltachta, which boasts the latest educational technology and facilities. This is working towards the Government's strategic aim of developing a sustainable knowledge-based economy".

Over 170 undergraduate and post-graduate students throughout the country have come to study in An Cheathrú Rua this academic year. An Cheathrú Rua is one of Ireland's strongest Gaeltacht areas with over 85% of its population speaking Irish daily, which in addition attracts hundreds of students to the centre annually to attend short term and specialised Irish courses and classes. The 2,500 square metre centre combines facilities at Áras Mháirtín Uí Chadhain and the former Coláiste Columba.

This centre generates more than €5 million annually to the local economy and supports the University's strategic community outreach initiatives. Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said, "Our outreach centres around the country are part of the University's policy of bringing education to the community. Essential to this vision is the development of a third level education model that can be emulated by other minority language communities as a vehicle for their sustainable development".

The President thanked Minister Ó Cuív and his Department for the support in the form of current and capital finance given to An tAcadamh for the development of an Irish language University in Gaeltacht centres. He also thanked Údarás na Gaeltachta for the help they have given An tAcadamh and its students in the Gaeltacht over the years. It is obvious that the education being delivered in the Gaeltacht centres is an integral part of the Gaeltacht's infrastructure.

An Cheathrú Rua outreach campus is part of a network of Gaeltacht centres, including Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegal and Carna, Co. Galway. Plans are underway for the establishment of a fourth centre in Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, Co. Kerry.

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