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Minister Simon Harris discusses campus expansion plans during visit to MIC Thurles

Minister Harris walks through the MIC Thurles library with Dr Finn Ó Murchú

The Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, this week visited MIC Thurles and met with senior management including Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC and Dr Finn Ó Murchú, Head of School at MIC Thurles to discuss plans for future campus developments.

Minister Harris’ visit to MIC Thurles, which is home to the College’s School of Education (Post-Primary), is the first ministerial visit to the campus since it was incorporated by MIC in 2016 and comes following a commitment by the Minister to visit in person to acquaint himself with the facilities.

Speaking about his visit Minister Harris said; “I am thrilled to be the first Minister to visit MIC Thurles since it was incorporated by MIC in 2016, and I’m just sorry that the events of the past 18 months meant I could not come sooner. The manner in which the campus has been redeveloped, by sympathetically merging the 19th century buildings with all the hi-tech facilities of a modern educational facility, is truly inspiring. It’s no wonder the numbers of students coming here for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses continue to increase year on year.”

The Minister went on to say “I am particularly impressed by the Lifelong Learning opportunities on offer at MIC, as well as the two-year course for people with intellectual disabilities delivered in an inclusive third-level setting. These are among the key pillars of my department, and I’m delighted to see MIC has created something that is accessible to everyone in society, while promoting inclusion and equity for all.”

Since its incorporation MIC Thurles has trebled the student size to close to 500 students as well as expanding on its academic offering which it hopes to continue to do. It has also undergone a massive regeneration programme including the addition of brand new on-campus accommodation. The campus, which is situated right at the heart of Thurles town and its amenities, was this year central in the €3 million Thurles Market Quarter development plan which includes designs for the addition of additional parking spaces and playing fields on the MIC grounds.

Minister Harris speaks with MISU represenatives
Minister Harris speaks with MISU represenatives
Professor Eugene Wall introduces Minister Harris to staff
Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC, introduces Minister Harris to staff members
Minister Harris speaks to Dr Finn Ó Murchú
Dr Finn Ó Murchú, Head of School at MIC Thurles, speaking with Minister Harris

Welcoming the Minister to MIC Thurles, Professor Eugene Wall said: “We are delighted to welcome Minister Harris to our campus this afternoon as we continue planning for the future of MIC Thurles which, along with MIC as a whole, plays a significant role in the higher education landscape. We have made substantial changes to and investment in the infrastructure and programme provision since the incorporation of the facility in 2016 and today marks an important step in continuing that expansion. Minister Harris and the Department have shown great commitment to furthering the already high quality of education our students experience at MIC Thurles and I’m heartened by the Minister’s recognition of the role the campus, and MIC as a whole, plays in the Irish Higher Education sector.”

The School of Education (Post-Primary) currently provides six concurrent teacher education programmes, of four-year duration, in the areas of Gaeilge, Mathematics, Business Studies, Theology and Religious Studies, and Accounting but aims to expand upon this subject offering. The school also has a specific postgraduate offering in the area of middle leadership and mentoring, with a cohort of students, both national and international, studying from Certificate and Masters-level to PhD-level.

Speaking about the calibre of the programmes on offer at MIC Thurles, Dr Finn Ó Murchú, Head of School of Education (Post-Primary) noted, “We have a wonderful teacher preparation programme here in MIC Thurles, which is built on promoting a caring learning environment that fosters students’ talents and goals by ensuring high quality teaching, learning and assessment experiences. The success of our approach is evidenced by the high numbers of MIC Thurles graduates who successfully secure teaching positions within the first year following graduation.’

During his visit the Minister also met Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Michael Keane, Vice-President Administration and Finance; Professor Gary O’Brien, Vice President Governance and Strategy; Professor Emer Ring, Dean of Education; and John White, student and representatives from the Mary Immaculate Students’ Union (MISU).