First Irish Traveller Elected to NUI Galway Governing Body, Údarás na hOllscoile

By Blathnaid O’Dea

An Irish Traveller has been elected onto a University Governing Body in Ireland for the first time.

Owen Ward, who is a Professional Master of Education student at NUI Galway was elected onto the University’s by Údarás na hOllscoile (Governing Body of the University) by fellow postgraduate students.

The governing body is responsible for managing all the affairs of the University.

Speaking about his appointment to the Governing Body Mr Ward said: “As an Irish Traveller who has overcome many barriers, this successful outcome demonstrates how open and respectful NUI Galway has become… I plan to bring a proactive postgraduate voice to this forum and to represent the diversity of issues that affect postgraduates on campus.”

The Hon Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chair of Údarás na hOllscoile, said: “I would like to welcome Owen to Údarás na hOllscoile and it is great to have him join. I am delighted to see NUI Galway lead the way in this area and the University has a proud tradition of welcoming members of the Travelling community as students. It is great to see Owen take on such a senior leadership role within the University. I look forward to having the benefits of his experience and insights on Údarás na hOllscoile.”

Mr Ward has worked alongside the Students’ Union, senior university staff and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to ensure a stronger student voice and better outcomes for all students particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He is the coordinator of NUI Galway Schools of Sanctuary programme which is an outreach programme promoting the welcoming of under-represented people into the college.

He also mentors students from disadvantaged backgrounds at NUI Galway to be successful within higher education.

Mr Ward was a co-founder of the Mincéirs Whiden Society with fellow Traveller students at NUI Galway and the Galway Traveller Movement. Mincéirs Whiden is the first Traveller student society in higher education in Ireland.

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