Seanad Internship to Feature in New DIT Masters Programme in Public Affairs

Dublin, 6th July 2006 - A new Masters programme starting in September at DIT will feature internships with significant public and private institutions, including Seanad Eireann, as an integral part of its academic content. Called the Master of Arts in Public Affairs and Political Communications, it will be a one year, full-time taught programme affording students the opportunity to gain a systematic understanding of issues at the forefront of contemporary politics and political communication, and an awareness of their importance in society.

Pictured at the launch of Dublin Institute of Technology's Master's of Arts in Public Affairs and Political Communications, an innovative new programme which features a Seanad Internship were Senator Brian Hayes, with Professor Brian Norton, DIT President, Senator Mary O'Rourke and John Gallagher

Senator Mary O'Rourke, Leader of Seanad Éireann and Senator Brian Hayes, Leader of Fine Gael in the Seanad, welcomed the launch of the new programme and the opportunity it affords students to work with Senators on an intern basis. Senator O'Rourke said she was enthusiastic about the programme, which she felt would offer an opportunity to re-awaken interest in the political process in a new generation. Senator Hayes said that while students from the USA have worked as interns with members of the Oireachtas for many years, he was delighted that DIT had developed a context in which students in higher education in Ireland would have a similar opportunity.

Students will also have the opportunity to perfect their skills in an internship of up to fifteen hours a week, in public, private and not for profit organisations engaged in public affairs. The internship programme is conducted with the aid of Irish and European governmental and regulatory bodies and in this, its initial year of operation, all fifteen students on the programme will serve as interns to Senators in Seanad Eireann.

Acknowledging the assistance received in bringing the programme to life, Course Director, John Gallagher said, "We have had substantial encouragement and assistance from both Senator Mary O'Rourke and Senator Brian Hayes. Thanks to their foresight, the Master of Arts in Public Affairs and Political Communication is the first programme at fourth-level in Ireland to provide access to students to act as interns at Leinster House".

According to the President of the Dublin Institute of Technology, Professor Brian Norton, "This is an initiative which is long overdue. There is much evidence internationally of disenchantment with the political process. There needs to be an active cross-party engagement getting young people involved in policy making and in the political process to see the importance of it and to engage in it at an intellectual level. The more students know about the political process, and the more they see people like themselves in office, the more engaged they become."

The new MA in Public Affairs and Political Communications has been built on the success of DIT's MA in Public Relations programme which attracts up to 200 applications per year from students all over Ireland, and indeed from the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia. Forty-five students are admitted annually to the programme and graduates have had outstanding success establishing a career for themselves in public relations both at home in Ireland and abroad. Indeed, 83% of those seeking employment from the class of 2005 had secured jobs in public relations before their graduation, a testament to the growth of the public relations industry and the relevance of public relations education at DIT.

The popularity of the MA in Public Relations in combination with an increasing demand for a specialised course in the area of Public Affairs has led to the development of the new programme in Public Affairs and Political Communication. According to John Gallagher, "Providing this new Masters programme is an exciting development. In terms of public relations education, the introduction of this new programme consolidates the position of the Dublin Institute of Technology as the foremost provider of Public Relations education in Ireland."

Students on the new Master of Arts in Public Affairs and Political Communications will be required to complete a range of academic and practical assessments as well as a dissertation. Core modules will include Public Affairs, Political Marketing, Political Structures, Ethics and Political Process, Public Affairs Writing, TV Environment and Presentation, Corporate Environment and Strategy, and Research Techniques.

The application deadline for students wishing to apply for the Master of Arts in Public Affairs and Political Communications at DIT is Friday, July 21, 2006.

Download: Postgraduate programmes application form

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