Dundalk South Councillors Ruairi O Murchu and Anne Campbell met with the newly-elected president of Dundalk IT’s students’ union, Maria Maguire, earlier this week.
In a joint statement, the Sinn Féin representatives said they were “very pleased to listen to and speak with Maria, a mature student, and vice president Aaron Geagan at the meeting at DkIT.”
The councillors said: “Very shortly after Maria’s election, we were in touch with her to set up a meeting to hear about some of the concerns the students at Dundalk IT have. We were very pleased with the positivity from Maria and Aaron and we spoke about a number of issues, not least the pressing issue of the lack of suitable accommodation for students and how this means that some of them are commuting from 7am to make it in time for lectures.”
Among the other matters discussed included the college’s application, made in 2017, for around €16 million in capital funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), as well as canteen facilities and parking for students on or near the campus.
The councillors said: “It was a good meeting for us to hear directly about students’ concerns and we will remain in touch with Maria and Aaron over the coming academic year to assist as much as we can.
“They have some great ideas for improving and enhancing student life at the college and we are supportive of their efforts to make DklT a great place for students from Dundalk and further afield.”
Teachta Adams said: “I have met the senior staff from DKIT several times in recent years and our discussions have always included how DKIT and the education system in this state can make it more attractive for students from the north to apply for places.
“Overall the number of students from the six counties who apply to enroll in third level education institutions in the south is small. It has averaged around only 0.5% of the student population. More needs to be done to improve this situation.
“One specific issue that has long needed to be addressed is the admissions criteria which is a matter for the individual institutions. The points system in this state means that most successful A Level students in the north who normally complete three A Levels – which are sufficient to secure university entrance within that education system – cannot reach the number of points needed for universities and institutes of technology in the south.
“I welcome the decision by DKIT to award additional points for A Level and BTEC exams and to allow students from the north taking a combination of A Levels, applied A Levels and BTEC exams to combine these for scoring purposes.
I also support the decision by the seven universities in the south to introduce new admissions criteria from September.
“The initiative taken by DKIT has seen a doubling of applications to it from the north. However there is enormous potential for greater growth.
More students travelling to third level education institutions on either side of the border is good for the students, for the education system and for society.”