US University sets up campus in Dingle
A MEMORANDUM of understanding has been signed to pave the way for a US university to set up a campus in Dingle, Co Kerry in the next year.
Project Draoicht (Project Enchantment) brings together the Sacred Heart University (SHU) in Fairfield, Connecticut, with three Irish third-level institutions.
It is the first American university to make this type of investment in Ireland and is currently completing the purchase of the Christian Brothers School in the town as its Irish campus.
SHU provost Laura Niesen de Abruna signed the memorandum of understanding this morning with president of the Cork Institute of Technology, Brendan Murphy; his counterpart in the Institute of Technology Tralee, Oliver Murphy; and Vice President of UCC Ronan O Dubhghaill.
The SHU established a connection with Dingle in 2004, in partnership with Monsignor Padraig O Fiannachta of the Diseart Centre that offers short-term undergraduate study programmes to 120 students each year in its Centre for Irish Cultural Studies.
Now it plans to expand the opportunities it can offer its students to study aboard in the areas of nursing, marine science and the performing arts.
It also plans to develop a coastal research and learning centre in partnership with its Department of Biology and Dingle's Oceanworld Aquarium.
This will employ Irish lecturers who will be overseen by visiting professors from the university's US base.
The first students to take part in full semester and post-graduate programmes are expected to arrive in the next 12 months.
Director of Oceanworld Aquarium and one of SHU's organisers in Dingle, Kevin Flannery, says it's an unbelievable opportunity for the town that any university city would envy.
"There should be no underestimating the significance of the signing of this memorandum of understanding because of what it will create for the future that has been missing up until now.
"It will enable endless opportunities in relation to research for all the different faculties," Mr Flannery said.
The investment will significantly boost the local economy which has already benefited from its association with SHU.