Mr. Bui Quang Vinh, a Senior Minister in the Vietnamese government, praised Dundalk IT for its role in the economic development of the region last week. Mr Bui who is Minister for Planning and Investment was in Dundalk to examine how higher education providers could promote industrial development and inward investment.
The Minister led a group of senior civil servants concerned with all aspects of economic planning. The Minister had specifically asked to come to Dundalk as part of his visit to Ireland because of its reputation in dynamic regional development. Dundalk IT is the only third level institute they are visiting on this occasion.
DkIT President, Denis Cummins noted that various international reports had pointed to the Irish Institutes of Technology as a model of the successful use of Higher Education to promote economic development. Vietnam was specifically advised by a UN sponsored report to examine the Irish IoT sector. This is the third group from Vietnam to visit Dundalk IT. The college previously hosted visits from delegations from Vietnam National University. Staff from DkIT have also visited Vietnam on a number of occasions and in December 2012 the Registrar Ann Campbell signed Memorandums of Understanding with Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT) and the International University, Ho Chi Minh City, (IU) with a view to further developing links between the institutions.
The Vietnamese National Television service recently broadcast a programme on Irish Higher Education which featured an extensive interview with President Denis Cummins. Following those successful meetings a group looking at vocational training systems in Ireland also came to Dundalk. The seminar on Regional Economic Development which was hosted by Dundalk IT also involved the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Boards and local companies including Silver Hill Foods, Intact Software, and StatSports.
The seminar explored how Higher Education Institutions in Ireland are seen as a key enabler of economic development through the courses and skills they provide and the industries they support at a regional and national level. A 2010 report on Vietnamese Higher Education called “Beyond the Apex”, produced by the Harvard Kennedy School and the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) in Ho Chi Minh City, suggests that Vietnamese policy makers should look at the Irish experience in using Higher Education as an engine to drive economic modernisation. In particular they stressed the utility of Higher Education Institutions which were close to the labour market and responsive to national and regional economic demands. The Minister was particularly struck by the willingness of Irish Institutes of Technology to develop regionally relevant programmes. The Registrar, Ms Ann Campbell, showed how the quality assurance systems in place ensured that programmes were responsive to local demands and relevant to industrial needs. The group had the opportunity to see how Dundalk IT links closely with industry through the Regional Development Centre and their set of programmes. Centre Manager Aidan Browne, spoke about the Incubation Support Programme for High-Tech Start-Ups and Kieran Fegan gave a presentation on the ICE project. The Vietnamese delegation was in Ireland at the invitation of the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD. The delegation is particularly interested in promoting experience and knowledge-sharing links between Irish and Vietnamese institutions responsible for economic development and policy formulation and implementation. They also met with Tánaiste, Eamonn Gilmore and Minister of State for Training and Skills at the Dept. of Education and Skills, Ciaran Cannon.