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DIT welcomes UK Education Minister and British Ambassador to Grangegorman

Posted: 7 September, 2018

Damian Hinds MP, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Education, and the British ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett CMG visited the new Dublin Institute of Technology campus at Grangegorman yesterday, accompanied by officials of the UK Department of Education and the Department of Education and Skills in Ireland.

Professor Tom Collins (TU Dublin), Damian Hinds MP, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Education, Dr Mary Meaney (TU Dublin) and DIT President Professor Brian Norton in the Greenway Hub in Grangegorman.

DIT President, Professor Brian Norton and Dr Noel O’Connor, Director of Student Development welcomed the delegation and invited them to enjoy a skyline view of the city and the rapidly progressing construction of the two new quads at Grangegorman that will see 10,000 students and 600 staff moving to the campus by September 2020. 

Following a brief tour, the group joined the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and representatives from across Higher Education for a working lunch. Topics of discussion included the opportunities and challenges presented by a rapidly changing world and recent developments in the Irish education system, including Technological Universities.

The Secretary of State continued his visit with meetings and presentations from SOLAS about the expansion of the national apprenticeship scheme with the introduction of training courses in sectors such as Animation and Logistics; and a presentation by the Dublin Regional Skills Forum on its Regional Action Plan for Jobs.

The meetings all took place in the Greenway Hub on the Grangegorman campus, which is home to a wide range of research in the Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute, and DIT Hothouse – the innovation and incubation centre.  Bernadette O’Reilly, Innovation Centre Manager, introduced Secretary of State Hinds to two companies based in the Centre. Noa, founded by Gareth Hickey and Shane Ennis, is an app to convert online news articles to audio for subscribers to listen to on-the-go. Styling itself as the "Spotify of journalism", the pieces are read by professional narrators and sourced from a range of international publishers including Bloomberg, Business Insider, the Financial Times and the UK Independent.  

Emma Corbett of Kastus Technologies described that company’s development of an anti-bacterial surface coating which provides a 99.99% reduction in harmful bacteria and fungi. Kastus is the culmination of over a decade of ground-breaking research by the Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology in DIT.

Bernadette O'Reilly (DIT Hothouse), Shane Ennis (NOA), Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education, Gareth Hickey (NOA), Emma Corbett (Kastus) and Professor Brian Norton

Moving on to research, Professor James Loughman welcomed the delegation to the Centre for Eye Research in Ireland (CERI) to outline their current research project into the increasing phenomenon of myopia in children and how they hope to address it. Finally, Dr Paula Bourke of the DIT Plasma Group introduced her team of researchers and outlined their work into the potential of cold plasma as an environmentally-friendly alternative for decontamination in food processing.  Dr Bourke also emphasised the cross-border collaboration with Queens University Belfast.

Professor James Loughman welcome Damian Hinds MP to the Centre for Eye Research Ireland

Dr Paula Bourke and her team in the DIT Plasma Group

The last meeting of the very busy visit concerned plans for the formal establishment of Technological University Dublin - TU Dublin – which is the first Technological University in Ireland.  Formally announced by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD in July, DIT, ITB and ITT will formally become TU Dublin in January 2019.  Professor Tom Collins, Chair of the three current Governing Bodies, President Brian Norton and Dr Mary Meaney, TU Dublin Programme Lead, shared their experience of developing technological education and how they believe Technological Universities will revolutionise the Irish Higher Education landscape, the economy and society as a whole.