By Ronan Dodd
A NEW and exciting chapter in the history of St Patrick’s College, Thurles, will be opened this Wednesday night when the college announces its new link with the University of Limerick.
Under the deal between the two establishments, St Patrick’s College students will graduate with degrees accredited by UL from 2012. The degrees will be BEd with Irish and Religious Studies and BEd with Business Studies and Religious Studies. Graduates will be registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland and will be qualified to teach to Leaving Certificate standard. Partipicants will also be covered by the Government Free Fees Initiative.
College president Fr Tom Fogarty told the Tipperary Star that this was “an exciting time to be in”.
“St Patrick’s College has just announced an academic linkage with the University of Limerick, one of the most reputable universities in Ireland. Under the agreement, UL will accredit all our teacher training programmes, starting next year,” he said.
Fr Fogarty pointed out that St Patrick’s will retain its own independence, identity, ethos and values under the linkage.
He said that the linkage was an historic moment for St Patrick’s and also pointed out that the four-year BEd programme would have an intake of 80 students annually, which would see a benefit for the town.“It will be great for the town in the present climate,” he said.
Fr Fogarty said that the college had been synonymous with educating young people since 1837 and had ordained over 1,500 men for the priesthood.
Outlining the college’s history, he said that St Patrick’s College added a philosophy department in 1842 and by the 1860s had developed into a major seminary with the addition of a full theological faculty. In 1973, that faculty affiliated with Maynooth Pontifical University to enable students obtain a diploma in theology. The next major step came in 1998 when the National Council for Education Awards decided to award a BA Theology degree to students following a four-year course.
In 2004, the Higher Education Training Awards Council approved St Patrick’s teacher training degree courses and St Patrick’s was established as a third level college of eduication.
But Fr Fogarty pointed out that the new agreement brings university education to St Patrick’s College.
He said that the college had been extensively refurbished over the years and now had state-of-the-art facilities on a modern campus, with excellent student services.
“There is a unique bond here between the students and the staff and people often comment on the warmth and friendliness of the college,” he said.
This Wednesday’s ceremony will be attended by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Clifford; the deputy Mayor of Thurles, Cllr Michael Cleary; Prof Don Barry, president of the University of Limerick; Prof Peader Cremin, president of Mary Immaculate Teacher Training College; Prof Paul McCutheon, vice-president, UL; Dr Pat Phelan, registrar, UL; Rev Mark Noonan, president, All-Hallows College, Dublin; Dr Bernadette Flanagan, director of research at All-Hallows College; John Lonergan, St Patrick’s College board member, and Robbie Kelleher, chairman of the board.