A unique floating university campus is to visit Galway next week. On Friday, 31 August, the MV Explorer will anchor in Galway Bay with over 800 students, academics and crew on board.
The visit of MV Explorer is part of Semester at Sea, which is a not-for-profit study abroad programme administered by the Institute for Shipboard Education, in conjunction with the University of Virginia.
As part of a strengthening of relations between NUI Galway and the University of Virginia, a postgraduate student from NUI Galway has flown out to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada and will sail across the Atlantic aboard the MV Explorer, departing tomorrow, Thursday.
Sarah Cosgrove, who is a PhD student at The Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, will talk to the international students aboard the travelling campus about Galway as a tourist destination, about Galway Port and about NUI Galway.
“NUI Galway has provided me with so many fantastic opportunities over the last six years and my current involvement with the semester at sea program is a perfect example of such an exciting and rewarding opportunity,” commented Sarah.
“I think the idea of this ‘floating campus’ which invites students from over 25 campuses across the US to travel the globe visiting a vast number of countries and experience multi-cultural diversity is a simply out-standing concept,” she added.
Sarah also said that she was very much looking forward to educating and informing the international students on what Galway and the West of the Ireland has to offer. Her trip is being sponsored by NUI Galway, conference and corporate meetings firm BEM Ireland and the Galway Harbour Company.
Galway Harbour Master, Captain Brian Sheridan, said that he was happy to facilitate the forging of new relationships between NUI Galway and the University of Virginia by welcoming the MV Explorer to Galway.
“You’d never know where it could lead down the road,” said Capt. Sheridan.
The arrival of the ocean-going cruise liner, which will be too large to dock inside Galway Harbour, comes after Galway Harbour Company welcomed two other cruise liners, Le Diamant and the Discovery, last Friday with a combined 1,400 passengers and crew aboard.
The cruise liners Le Diamant and Silver Explorer are due to return to Galway in September, while it was confirmed on Monday that the cruise liner Princendam, which was booked to come to Galway in August 2013, has already committed to returning in 2014.
Galway Harbour Company has decided to alter the means by which it applies for planning for the new Port of Galway.
The company had intended to pursue the application through Article 6.3 of the European Habitats Directive, but following discussions with Europe and with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the decision was taken to change tack and pursue the application through Article 6.4 of the directive, which is commonly known as IROPI.
IROPI, or Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest does not have any precedent in Ireland, but the Port of Hull, in England, is an example of a port that successfully used Article 6.4.
“Looking at other, similar cases both in Ireland and right across Europe, including the Galway City Outer Bypass, it became clear to us that we would more suited to going down the route of Article 6.4 of the European Habitats Directive,” said Eamon Bradshaw, CEO of Galway Harbour Company.
Mr Bradshaw acknowledged that there are risks involved with taking a route untried in Ireland, and that there would be a small delay as a result, but said that it was hoped that this new strategy would reduce the risk of judicial review and that the application will be lodged before the end of the year.