There is a critical shortage of skills in the high tech sector including technicians, senior process scientists and engineers in the medical device sector. According to a recent Forfás report Ireland is facing an increase in demand for high-level ICT skills of about five per cent every year from now until 2018
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There is a critical shortage of skills in the high tech sector including technicians, senior process scientists and engineers in the medical device sector.  According to a recent Forfás report Ireland is facing an increase in demand for high-level ICT skills of about five per cent every year from now until 2018.

In the context of the increased demand for level 7 and level 8 qualifications, the Atlantic University Alliance provides an innovative modular diploma and degree programme in Science and Technology Studies.

This part-time programme is delivered using a combination of distance and online learning, as well as face-to-face tutorials, workshops and laboratory sessions that are normally held on Saturdays, mainly in NUI Galway but also at the University of Limerick. The modular structure is developed for the busy professional and allows them to study when and where they want, and at a pace that suits them.

Wide range of modules


The programme in Science and Technology Studies was developed by academic staff in consultation with industry, specifically to address current and future requirements of the high tech sector. It offers a comprehensive range of traditional science, engineering and informatics subjects along with specialist modules so participants can focus on areas that are relevant to their career path.

The level 7 diploma (DST) is open to applicants over 21 who have a Leaving Certificate with maths. The flexibility of the modular course means that it can be completed in between two and four years. Entry into the degree cycle (BST) requires either our own DST or a similar level 7 diploma.

Again, the flexibility of the modular programme means that it can be completed in between two and four years. The degree cycle offers specialist streams in: Medical Device Science, Lean and Quality Systems, Automation and Control, and Form and Function of the Human Body.

These four streams are also available as standalone specialist diplomas, which can be completed in one year. Company-based projects help participants to apply learning directly and immediately to the workplace and there is an emphasis on professional transferrable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making, oral and communication, and team work. The table below outlines the modules that are covered in both the diploma and degree cycle and the opportunity to specialise in one’s preferred area.Dip

Springboard funding


This year the programme has secured Springboard+ funding for 23 students across three specialist diplomas: Lean and Quality Systems, Medical Device Science and Automation and Control. This funding covers the full tuition fees and includes an industry placement. Further details from Springboard.ie

Career opportunities


People seeking to fast-track their career or to move into management roles should consider the programme, which has been developed in order to address current and future requirements of the high tech sector. Furthermore, it improves employability for those seeking a career in a variety of technology-rich industries, such as manufacturing, biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, medical and other precision devices.

Flexible learning environment


dip-2Dr Brian Ó Donnchadha, pictured left, the programme co-ordinator says “students like the fact that the programme is flexible and they can fit it in to their busy lives. They also appreciate the collegiality that develops with fellow students and the teaching staff. The fact that many of the high tech companies in the west sponsor their employees to take our courses is the best endorsement that we can get”.

Dr Ó Donnchadha says that part of the success of the programme to date has been “our team of more than 40 highly qualified and dedicated teaching staff who provide a supportive learning environment, both face to face and online, which is conducive to succeeding to gain a valuable qualification that is highly prized in the market place”.

However, with student numbers growing year by year, the AUA appears to have found the formula for successful education in the area of science and technology.

Conscious of the many demands placed on adult learners from a work and family perspective, all of the courses were developed on a modular basis to provide manageable, bite-sized chunks of learning, enabling participants to combine work and family commitments with the demands of a programme of study. Payment for the course is per module, on a semester by semester basis, and at €380 per module it is an affordable option for anybody considering further education.

Lifelong learning for professionals


The term Continued Professional Development (CPD) describes ongoing education to maintain and update the professional skills and knowledge necessary in a practitioner’s working life. The programme in Science and Technology Studies offers more than 50 modules that can be taken individually as ‘CPD’. Given that in the coming years Engineers Ireland will require approximately 40 hours of CPD per annum as a membership criterion, CPD is an important requirement for which smart professionals are making provision.

Funding opportunities


As well as the Springboard+ funding for three of the specialist diplomas, there are also scholarships that cover 30 per cent of the course fees available to those in receipt of disability or unemployment benefit. You will find detailed programme content, with an outline of all the modules on offer on the programme website www.aua.ie.

Applications are being accepted from now until Friday, June 26, 2015. Demand is high so early application is recommended. For any queries you can call the programme administrator on 091 49 5845.

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  There is a critical shortage of skills in the high tech sector including technicians, senior process scientists and engineers in the medical device sector.  According to a recent Forfás report Ireland is facing an increase in demand for high-level ICT skills of about five per cent every year from now until...