NUI Galway appoints full-time Traveller Education Officer

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Jason Sherlock and Owen Ward

NUI Galway has appointed its first full-time Traveller Education Officer to lead the teaching and learning of students from the Traveller community.

Owen Ward, a Traveller, qualified teacher and alumnus of the University, is to take on the role as NUI Galway develops a model to empower the Traveller community to overcome barriers in higher education.

He will manage Mincéirs Misl’d in Education – Empowering Irish Travellers to transition and build a sense of belonging in Higher Education.

“The main objective of the project is to support the development of recruitment and support strategies and evidence-based teaching and learning methods in an effort to address the low levels of Travellers in higher education,” said Owen.

“It will empower Travellers in post-primary, further education and mature students to progress to higher education and build a sense of belonging, while being successful during their studies at NUI Galway.

“I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to achieve positive outcomes for the Traveller community in education.

“This project highlights NUI Galway’s ongoing commitment to widening the participation of Travellers in higher education.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris welcomed the appointment, saying Owen is an incredible role model for his family and the wider Traveller community.

“He has overcome adversity and changed the course of not only his own future but that of the wider Traveller community,” said Minister Harris.

“Higher education is for everyone and can be the key to equality as well as unlocking opportunities for all. Our mission in my Department of Further and Higher Education Research Innovation and Science is to ensure no one is left behind.

“As we strive towards a more inclusive higher education system for all, I have no doubt that Owen will play a huge part in this in the future.

“I wish him well in this new role and I want to commend NUI Galway for continuing to play a leadership role in this area.”