The Canadian Ambassador, Mr Loyola Hearn, met with Dr Richard Hayes, Head of the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to discuss deepening the existing links between the Institute and Canadian universities.
According to Dr Hayes, “WIT has developed strong and varied links with Canada and particularly with Newfoundland, Ambassador Hearn’s home province, over a long number of years. Given the natural synergies between our two cultures, we are keen to strengthen these links for the benefit of our students and staff and the wider community of the South East.
“International education is about broadening the frontiers of the imagination, opening up new experiences and challenging existing perceptions of the world. Making available these experiences both to Irish and Canadian students through partnerships between our universities makes great educational sense and adds enormously to the richness of the courses we can offer to students.” Dr Hayes has been working closely with partners colleges to make available to WIT students study abroad options in Canada.
Dr Hayes added, “Furthermore, the benefits of attracting Canadian students to Ireland are potentially great, with the increased tourist- and leisure-related activities engaged in by these visitors (and, in some cases, their families) an obvious source of economic gain for the South-east.”
Earlier this year, Dr Hayes travelled to colleges in Ontario including Fleming College, Durham College, Humber College and Fanshawe College to promote the progression pathways for Ontario students into courses in WIT, as well as staff exchanges and research projects.
The arrangements agreed will involve Canadian students coming to WIT for up to two years to receive an honours Bachelor degree, following completion of certificate courses in Ontario. The Institute has identified a number of priority areas within which to develop progression arrangements, including Early Childhood Studies, Social Care, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts.
During this visit, Dr Hayes also met with a senior policy advisor in the Department of Education in Canada. “There is great enthusiasm amongst Department officials, as well as amongst students and staff members, for the potential of the link with Ireland,” Dr Hayes said. “The agreements with the various colleges will offer Canadian students an exciting international experience while also adding to the increasingly diverse international student population at WIT.”
As part of his North American trip, Dr Hayes also visited Memorial University Newfoundland (MUN) promoting exchange and collaboration between the two colleges across a range of humanities subjects. WIT already has a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the island’s main university and over the last number of years, has engaged in research projects and exchanged students and staff, particularly in the areas of business and management.
Dr Hayes says, “Many Newfoundlanders trace their ancestry to Waterford and the long-standing historical links between the island and the region, as well as the shared economic challenges, make Newfoundland and Waterford obvious partners. WIT is working with MUN to develop projects in areas such as literary and theatre studies, social science, and law, amongst others. The immediate benefit will not only be in creating opportunities for Waterford students to travel to Newfoundland and find out for themselves how the island is coping with economic and social challenges, but also in sharing solutions to problems we have in common right across society.