More than 2,100 people were conferred over two days at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) last week, the largest number to ever graduate from the institute.
Five people were conferred with PhDs in areas ranging from the effect of milk proteins on bacteria in powdered baby formula through to how smell in multimedia impacts user experiences.
Amongst the new graduates are two of Ireland’s leading athletes John Travers and Martin Fagan, who were conferred with degrees in sport management and social care practice respectively.
In his address to the graduates, AIT president Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, said that “those graduating today have made extraordinarily difficult decisions, attempting to balance so many competing claims, trying to do the best for themselves and their families”.
Their decision to go to college was made in the face of the worst economic recession in memory. He supported wholeheartedly the graduates’ faith that “higher education can help make things better for yourself and those dear to you”.
He criticised Government policy, however, for “ignoring the needs of our increasingly diverse student population”. He accused the politicians of paying “mere lip service to the very colleges they say are key drivers for economic recovery”.
“We have made the cutbacks, achieved efficiencies, now is the time for investment in third level if the great progress we have made over the past several decades is not to be severely undermined,” stated Professor Ó Cathain.