Graduate architects keep lofty ambitions

DESPITE the severe shortage of jobs for architects, the first graduates from a joint degree at Cork’s two third-level colleges are hopeful for a bright future.

A class of almost 30 who entered the Cork Institute of Technology-University College Cork architecture programme in 2006 earned their parchments yesterday and said they still have big ambitions. For many, the first option is further study, but others are looking overseas for work.

Francis Shier from Adare, Co Limerick has applied for jobs in London and in New York and hopes to get work soon, even if it might not be in Ireland.

“The job prospects for architects were pretty bright when we started but I haven’t got any regrets at this stage,” he said.

Alana Straub from Riverstick, Co Cork is thinking about moving to a postgraduate degree in environmental services if architecture jobs prove elusive.

“I’m hoping to do a bit of travel. I started this degree straight after my Leaving Certificate. I don’t think any of us expected everything to be rosy in the beginning, but we didn’t think it’d be as tough as it is, either,” she said.

Eoin French from Kilcully, Co Cork, said he had always wanted to study architecture and he was not too worried about the future.

CIT president Dr Brendan Murphy said he took heart from the optimism and confidence of all 2,500 graduates in the past week’s CIT ceremonies, traits he said have never been needed more than they are now.

“It’s fantastic for architectural education to be back in Cork after something like 40 years. If you talk to those students, they’re very enthusiastic,” he said.

“They are going to go abroad because in order to become a professional architect – and the same thing applies to the music students we graduated here today – you need to.

“I have no fears about people going abroad. Some will come back, some won’t, that’s the nature of these things,” Dr Murphy said.

UCC president Dr Michael Murphy assured the graduates that the standards they have met have been recognised by external examiners as being among the best in the world, and he praised the collaboration between both colleges in setting up the architecture degree.

A survey of more than 100 degree students nationally has found that just half expect to find work in the next year, but almost half expect to earn under €20,000 a year when they start working. Almost 85% of entrants for the Irish Undergraduate Awards ranked the quality of their college education so far as seven out of 10 or higher.

Among the 26 recipients of awards from former president Mary Robinson yesterday was CIT student William Holland, honoured for his project on a design for improved support and performance in sports footwear.

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