Buzz about campus at Cavan Institute
There is a great buzz around Cavan Institute this week with all students are back on campus as a new academic year begins and everyone tries to put the past 18 months and the COVID-19 pandemic behind them.
What started in March, 2020, as a two-week campus closure turned into a prolonged period of rolling lockdowns with the local Further Education (FE) college community forced to quickly adapt to online teaching and learning.
While many essential practical classes continued after the first lockdown, the majority of students continued to attend classes remotely.
This week, Cavan Institute welcomed back its entire cohort of students.
The director of Cavan Institute, Ann Marie Lacey, speaking to The Anglo-Celt said: “We are delighted to welcome back on campus our new first year students and returning second year students. There is a great buzz around the college that has not been seen since March 2020. With the vast majority of people in Ireland now fully vaccinated, combined with the measures that have been put in place in Cavan Institute to stop the spread of Covid, we believe that with the co-operation of all students and staff, the safe return to on-site teaching and learning will be achieved.”
Ms Lacey says that many students found online classes "challenging".
"The face to face interaction is indeed considered a great learning environment and we are delighted to have students from all over County Cavan and the surrounding areas enrolling on one of over 70 courses that we offer at Cavan Institute. A limited number of on-line classes will continue at least up until Christmas, but the vast majority of classes will be held on campus," she continued.
Extra curricular college activities are also getting back to "normal" with sports and other clubs already forming and higher education leagues and competitions on the horizon.
Ms Lacey finds that demand for courses is particularly high this year, with a noticeable increase in health-related courses. There is also a large number of students who are now choosing to do a one-year PLC course before committing to a four-year degree. “This is an excellent idea and students who come through the PLC route have proven that they are at an advantage when they do progress to third level and are less likely to drop out of their courses. This is because they have already experienced college life and will have a strong background in their chosen degree programmes. All PLC courses contain a work placement element," she said.
Some students also choose a PLC course in order to go directly into employment, according to Ms Lacey. “Many of our practical courses are directly aimed at those who want to gain employment in industries such as hospitality, beauty therapy and hairdressing.”
Cavan Institute is one of the largest colleges of further education and training in Ireland and enrolment is expected to increase, with students coming from Cavan and all surrounding counties.
Commenting on accommodation, Ms Lacey stated that Cavan Institute was not affected by the lack of rental accommodation locally and that, with improving transport links provided by Local Link, Bus Eireann and other private providers, most students are now commuting to college. Those who required accommodation seem to have been successful.
Ms Lacey concluded that she and all staff and students are looking forward to a successful year ahead.