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Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland – the leader of the project

8c204b6dedc5ddc9098e53fe2ee2d57d_001_LITLimerick Institute of Technology (LIT) is an institute of higher education in Limerick, a modern city in the Mid-West region of Ireland and is one of 13 institutes that are members of the Institutes of Technology, Ireland (IOTI). LIT is the fourth largest IOT in Ireland, with more than 6000 full time and part time students and 500 staff.

LIT has as its brief as outlined in Section 5(1) IOT Act 2006 ‘to provide vocational and technical education and training for the economic, technological, scientific ,commercial, industrial, social and cultural development of the state with particular reference to the region served by the college’.

The Institute has five campuses and a learning centre across Limerick city, Tipperary and Clare. The main campus is located at Moylish Park, with two city centre campuses in Limerick city, and two Tipperary Campuses, in Thurles and Clonmel. LIT was awarded the Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year in 2008 and 2013 by the Sunday Times University Guide.

LIT offers a wide range of certificate, degree, master and Ph.D. programmes within the Science, ICT, Art and Design, Humanities and Social Science areas. These programmes have included degrees in Rural Development, Environmental Management, Social and Community Studies and Business and Enterprise.

LIT is also actively involved in research and enterprise development and is a regular participant in a variety of EU programmes both as project co-ordinator and project partner. Its research areas include Sustainable and Rural Development, Community Development, Collaborative Planning and Decision-Making, Social and Community Enterprise and similar.

LIT and its constituent elements have been actively involved in the area of Rural Development for well over a decade. Two of ts most extensive engagements in this area have been the running of the Leader Support Network from 2002 to 2006 and the running of the National Rural Network from 2008 to 2013. Both of these networks were the NRNs set up by the Irish Government under the terms of the Rural Development Programmes of 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 respectively.

The NRN was operated as a non-membership structure that made its activities available to those interested in rural development
and particularly those involved in the delivery of the Rural Development Programme (RDP). It operated across the four Axes of the programme, making it different to previous networks which were focused on the LEADER elements of the programme only.

The principal role of the NRN was to generate and disseminate information and knowledge using the full range of communications
channels. These include the NRN website and its associated twitter and facebook pages, quarterly newsletters, special features in the Irish Farmers Journal and articles in national and local media.

Reports by Strategic Issues Working Groups, case studies and research reports on a range of issues relevant to the programme were published by the NRN. An annual conference was held and NRN forum meetings were organised on a variety of pertinent topics.
The NRN also participated in a number of EU committees and assisted with a number of other activities under the NDP, including a North/South LEADER forum and a consultation forum for the next RDP.

The main activities of the NRN could be classified under the following key themes: Farming and Farm Structures; Farm and Rural
Environment; Farm and Rural Enterprise; Community Support and Rural Economic Development.

LIT has also participated in Erasmus and Leonardo programmes as well as FP7 projects and its International Office promotes the Institute globally and welcomes students of many diverse nationalities.