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Big future for Aquabusiness course graduates

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Local graduates from the Aquabusiness course in Wexford Campus celebrating receiving their diploma: (from left) Karen Hennessy, head of Campus; James Roche; Amy Allen, lecturer; Seamus O’Flaherty; Dr Janette Davies, deputy head of Campus; Brian O’Loan, resource developer, Bord Iascaigh Mhara; and Carmen Bates

Local graduates from the Aquabusiness course in Wexford Campus celebrating receiving their diploma: (from left) Karen Hennessy, head of Campus; James Roche; Amy Allen, lecturer; Seamus O’Flaherty; Dr Janette Davies, deputy head of Campus; Brian O’Loan, resource developer, Bord Iascaigh Mhara; and Carmen Bates

Local graduates from the Aquabusiness course in Wexford Campus celebrating receiving their diploma: (from left) Karen Hennessy, head of Campus; James Roche; Amy Allen, lecturer; Seamus O’Flaherty; Dr Janette Davies, deputy head of Campus; Brian O’Loan, resource developer, Bord Iascaigh Mhara; and Carmen Bates

wexfordpeople

The latest graduates from Wexford Campus' Aquabusiness course have celebrated the completion of their studies.

The only course of its kind in the country, the Higher Diploma in Business in Aquabusiness is now in its fourth year and continues to be popular among young candidates.

'The 2019/2020 cohort graduated with a virtual ceremony,' said lecturer Amy Allen. 'Covid-19 impacted their second semester quite significantly in that a number were scheduled to start industrial placement and of course lockdown restrictions did not permit this.

'However, the course is flexible and, as a teaching team, we feel we are very flexible and responsive to the sector's situation, so we managed to transfer some of these students onto an interdisciplinary project (desk-based).

'Those who really want to complete the placement are being put on hold until restrictions ease and they can rejoin their sponsor companies.'

Among those graduating were three students from Wexford, and others from as far afield as Cork, Galway and Donegal.

'These guys are from the farmed fishing sector, some are also from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and work as marine biologists,' Ms Allen said.

'Most are export-focused, but they come from small family-owned ventures and are seeking to build up their skills. Many are very concerned about Brexit. Some of our local processors, for example, in Kilmore Quay, 60 per cent of their catch could be soon considered within UK waters, so it's a big deal for them.'

Despite concerns, the pandemic has not affected interest in the course for the forthcoming year, quite the contrary according to Ms Allen.

'This year our numbers have increased, despite Covid. I think online delivery suits, perhaps, as some students were travelling to Wexford every second weekend for two days, but they can now complete the programme remotely.

'The situation is not perfect however. Ideally, a number of face-to-face sessions in the campus, along with remote learning - the much spoken about "blended approach" - would be perfect for a group like this,' she said.

Now into its fifth year the Aquabusiness course continues to increase in popularity.

'This is a really unique course for the Wexford Campus to have developed. It's the only one of its kind within in Ireland, in fact,' said Ms Allen. 'Without the support of Dick Bates, and a few key BIM players, it would still be just considered a good idea. But now it is a reality, and a very successful programme.'


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