Ann Marie Lacey, director of Cavan Institute, speaking at the morning session. Photos: Adrian Donohoe
Cavan Institute’s role in the promotion of the business culture within the region was to the fore during a special consultation of its Strategic Plan 2011-2016.
The forum brought together a select group of individuals who represented various sectors including businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations as well as state agencies.
Michael Kenny from NUI Maynooth chaired the forum and he was joined by Ann Marie Lacey, director of the institute, John Cusack, a member of the board of management and former head of school at Athlone IT, Adrian Delaney and Gerry McKinney, both deputy directors of Cavan Institute.
A board range of discussions took place at the consultation, which was held in the college last Thursday, as to how they could actively enhance the growth of business in the region.
Cavan Institute is the third largest provider of post-leaving certificate courses in the country and caters for 1,660 students. According to Ms Lacey a high percentage of ideas for the new strategic plan has been driven by the staff and students.
“The whole idea behind the forum is how the college could develop closer links with business and industry and if it has ideas on how it could develop its services with the business/community at large.”
Ms Lacey said they were mindful that they were now working if a different economic landscape. “The massive economic upheaval has led to an unprecedented demand for further education,” she added. Last year they had 4,500 applications for 1,600 places in the college.
The college was offering 80 courses in five areas. “The link between business and industry in the region is important to us.” Cavan Institute was a success story and over the last 25 years courses had evolved. They had a retention rate of 80% in all their courses, Ms Lacey added.
She believes that Cavan Institute is the first college to formulate a strategic plan. “Our objective from this consultation is to tap into new ideas that you might have and get some alternative perspectives on what we do and what we should be doing.”
The general feedback was that the college was playing a vital role in offering a wide range of courses. Bernie Gumley from Stepping Stones said the college deserved more recognition from the community, while Anna Costello from Utopia Health and Beauty at Cavan Crystal described the college as the hub of the community.
Geraldine Mullen of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, stated that the college provided an excellent opportunity for further education and Geraldine McDonnell of Abbeyset said the college could become a beacon like Limerick and it was vital to them. “It is not a university but it could be,” she claimed.
Cavan county manager Jack Keyes said they should foster stronger links with other colleges and areas like the way Donegal and Sligo did, and Dundalk with Belfast and Drogheda. John McEvoy from Crannog bookshop enquired if there could be courses dealing specifically with bringing industry to the area.
Vincent Walsh from Cavan Credit Union suggested setting up a consultative council to talk to students and get them to be represented on that council. “It would be the final touch to what we are doing here today.” Ms Lacey said it was something they would look at to initiate.
Ger Finn, Cavan Town Council, said there seemed to be a willingness with people to come in and share their experiences with the students. He enquired if there were links with other third level institutions.
Ms Lacey said they had strong links with Athlone IT and they were drawing up a memorandum of understanding between them. The students had spoken to staff about completing their studies locally and staff were talking to Athlone about it.
They were in talks with Dundalk and they had links with NUI Maynooth as well as working with Sligo. “It is something that is on our agenda,” she said.
Mr. Keyes pointed out that it was important they didn’t lose the local link with industry and it needed to continue. With emerging markets in China and India foreign languages will have a role to play as well.
Ms Lacey said they would be sitting down and setting out their priorities for their five-year plan.
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|Date:||Monday, May 20, 2013 at 10:34:48 AM|