New graduates are equipped with the skills and innovative mindset that work environments redefined by Covid-19 need, the President of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has said as the first online conferring ceremonies begins at www.wit.ie/conferring

The conferring of academic awards ceremonies for WIT’s class of 2020 take place online between Wednesday, 21 April and Friday, 23 April 2021.

Of the 2,552 graduates being conferred this week 874 are from Waterford City and County (34%). However, WIT graduates hail from all over Ireland with 353 from Wexford (14%), 275 from Kilkenny (11%), 274 from Tipperary (11%) and 180 from Cork (7%). In total, 72% of the class of 2020 were from the south east counties of Waterford, Carlow, Wexford, Kilkenny and Tipperary.

As the first of the ceremonies took place, Prof Willie Donnelly, President of WIT in his conferring address acknowledged the challenge the sudden move online in March last year posed to the then final year students.

“Despite the continuing impact of Covid-19 and the need to move this ceremony online, today remains a day to be cherished in your memories. The conferring ceremony is an important occasion, marking your academic achievement and the hard work you have put into earning your qualification. You can be particularly proud of your achievement in light of the difficulties you faced in completing the course online. I know that it has been hugely challenging for you and it required great dedication and sacrifice.”

Prof Donnelly also spoke about how graduates’ innovation and skillsets are highly valued: “Covid-19 has redefined the work environment with the emergence of hybrid work environments combining physical and remote working as the new normal. It is likely that this change will define the future work environment. It is also clear that organisations build on knowledge creation; its innovation and application continue to perform strongly despite the impact of Covid-19. These work environments need the kind of innovative, skilled graduates such as yourselves. Thanks to your educational experience in WIT, you have the skills to succeed in this new environment, to develop new business, to transform existing ones, and particularly to take the lead in shaping the future of Waterford city and the wider South East.”

Prof Donnelly also spoke of the future for the institute: "While the Institute’s past achievements are considerable, the time has now come for the Institute to move to the next stage in its development with the Institute of Technology Carlow, into a Technological University. The new university will be a university for the entire region and will have significant impact nationally and internationally - it is our ambition that in time it will be amongst the top new universities in the world."

“The creation of the Technological University will ensure that the Institute continues to drive the future economic, social and cultural development of the South East.”

In his address, Chairman of the WIT Governing Body Jim Moore addressed how the commitment of staff has been key to graduates’ success. “They have mentored, challenged, encouraged and guided you along the journey. On behalf of Governing Body I want to acknowledge the work which has ensured that standards are maintained with a quality and acceptability of your awards at such a high level, regionally, nationally and internationally.”

“You are joining a large group of highly regarded graduates from this Institute making their mark throughout the world. We share in your success as we set about future Institute developments which will support the aspirations of future students and the wider region and creation of a Technological University.”

WIT, which was awarded The Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year 2021 title turned 50 in 2020, and is in the process of applying to become a technological university with IT Carlow.