12th August: IUA Response to comments from Minister McHugh regarding the freezing of student fees

Minister McHugh has made clear that Fine Gael and the Government will not introduce student loans and will not increase fees. So, that tells us what the Minister will not do, we now need to hear what he and Fine Gael will do to solve the long-accepted funding crisis.

The IUA would welcome a firm indication of what the Minister means by the “ultimate solution coming from the autonomy of the third level colleges”.

Universities are prepared to play their part and have already taken as much action as they can within the current restrictions, though large scale cost reductions and by generating extra income through a variety of means including industry partnerships, philanthropy and international students.”

However, the fact is that state funding per student has fallen 43% or €4000 per student over the last decade. It’s time for positive solutions on funding for tuition and education by the Minister and the government.

The IUA has made a comprehensive pre-budget submission which sets out the scale of the challenge faced by the sector and recommendations on how to address this. The submission is available here.


17th July – Micheál Martin calls for a separate Department of Higher Education and Research at IUA Future of Ireland Event – Download full speech

Irish Universities Association calls for increased investment across core funding and research and innovation

Micheál Martin TD

Wednesday 17th July – Speaking at the Irish Universities Association (IUA) inaugural Future of Ireland series, Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin called for the creation of a separate Department of Higher Education and Research and for clarity and certainty around core funding. Micheál Martin also highlighted the need to tackle the funding of the innovation gap between large and small enterprises, and the need for fostering diversity and accessibility within higher education.

Speaking about the need to separate higher education from the Department of Education, Micheál Martin said: “I believe the time has come to consider separating higher education from the Department of Education.  Our first and second-level systems face rising demands to address vital issues such as diversity and inclusion” he continued, “The creation of a separate Department of Higher Education and Research might be the only way to guarantee both a real priority for this area and to provide strategic leadership.  Such a Department would have critical mass in terms of size and budget and would mean that for the first time we would have a senior political and administrative leadership whose sole responsibility would be to focus on higher education and the wider research and knowledge agenda.”

On the core funding of higher education, Micheál stated that: “The harsh reality is that our higher education and research system is at a moment of truth.  Important measures are going in the wrong direction and there is an undeniable funding crisis which may cause real damage to participation and quality within the system.” He stated that: “In terms of the core funding of higher education, the system needs clarity and certainty.  We have to end the permanent insecurity about what each year will bring.  How can institutions be expected to manage staff and implement long-term plans if they lack basic financial security? Funding needs to be based on a transparent approach to providing the resources necessary to deliver quality education.”

Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin with Dr Lisa Keating, Director of Research and Innovation at IUA and Prof. Brian MacCraith, Chair of IUA and President of DCU.

Commenting on Micheál Martin’s speech, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “Given his history in policy and in supporting third level education, I’m delighted to welcome Micheál Martin as the inaugural speaker at out Future of Ireland series. I welcome Micheál’s comments that there is an undeniable funding crisis and the need for greater state contribution on core funding. It is positive to see the recognition Micheál expressed on the demands the increasing demographic bulge will place on higher education in the immediate future”.

“In conclusion the IUA welcomes Micheál’s contribution to raising awareness of the role of third level education and research in shaping the Future of Ireland. The IUA looks forward to engaging across the political, economic and social spectrum on this very important topic.”


Download full speech: 

Micheál-Martin-TD-Speech-17-July-IUA-Future-of-Ireland-Event.pdf (77 downloads)


Watch full speech at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8cIg0evKd8

For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan

Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association

lia.osullivan@iua.ie; +353 (0)1 676 4948 I Direct: +353 (0)85 7141414 


Louise Walsh

Drury Porter Novelli

louise.walsh@drurypn.ie; +353 (0)1 260 5000 I Direct: +353 (0)87 7757725 

June 20th – IUA and the Irish Refugee Council welcome changes to a Support Scheme to allow more young people in direct provision enter Irish higher education

To mark World Refugee Day, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) are delighted to jointly welcome a rule change in the Department of Education and Skills Student Support Scheme for students living in direct provision, which will allow a greater number of young people in or having come through direct provision to gain a financially supported place in an Irish university.

Prospective students must have obtained their Leaving Certificate and have been in the Irish school system for at least three academic years by 31 August 2019. This requirement has been reduced from five academic years. To be eligible under these revised Department of Education and Skills criteria, asylum applicants, subsidiary protection applicants, and leave to remain applicants whose eligibility has yet to be determined, must have been part of an application for a combined period of three years by 31 August 2019.

Welcoming the development, Lewis Purser, Director of Academic Affairs, Learning and Teaching at IUA said: “The universities encourage everyone to apply who fulfils the criteria for the Department of Education and Skills’ Student Support Scheme. Applications are now open for the 2019/20 academic year, and the closing date is 1 November 2019. The scheme is complementary to existing activities to support students in the international protection process, including scholarships, which have been introduced by the universities.”

Having been accepted on an approved undergraduate course through the CAO or an approved post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course, successful applicants will be provided with free tuition and supports in line with the Student Grant Scheme operated by SUSI. In the case of an undergraduate course at any of the Irish universities, this means that the €3,000 per year student contribution will be paid by the State, as will the costs of essential field trips. A maintenance grant will contribute towards living costs. Students will also be assessed and supported through their university’s Access Office in terms of possible academic and/or other financial needs.

Commenting on what this means for eligible students, Charlotte Byrne, Education Officer of the IRC said “This is great news for all students who have been in an Irish secondary school for three years and who have completed their Leaving Certificate.  It means that these young students can now plan their future alongside their classmates, and it means that their hard work and study has a definite purpose.  While the Student Support Scheme continues to exclude other pathways to University, such as mature student entry and further education applicants it is nonetheless a welcome change in the right direction. “

Further information on how to apply, including the application form, is available on the Department of Education and Skills’ website: https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Services/Pilot-Support-Scheme/Pilot-Support-Scheme.html

In addition to encouraging students in direct provision to apply for the revised DES Support Scheme as early as possible, the Irish Universities Association and the Irish Refugee Council also encourage students who have Permission to Remain under the 2015 International Protection Act to apply for SUSI student maintenance grants. As a result of the 2015 International Protection act, such students should now be eligible for SUSI supports, as with all other students who have “leave to remain”.


For more information contact

Lia O’Sullivan Head of Communications IUA 085 7141414   lia.osullivan@iua.ie

July 17th – Future of Ireland series with Micheál Martin TD – The Role of Research & Innovation in the Knowledge Economy

Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil,  outlined his vision for how universities and other third-level institutions will play a pivotal role in the knowledge economy of the future

Micheál Martin TD

Fianna Fáil Leader and UCC alumnus, Micheál Martin entered politics in 1989.  Micheál has been Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party since 2011 and before this he served in four cabinet posts: Minister for Foreign Affairs (2008-2011), Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (2004-2008) where he played a key role in developing research infrastructure in Ireland.  He also served as Minister for Health (2000-2004) and Minister for Education (1997-2000).

When: July 17th 2019. 8am.

Where: Alex Hotel, Fenian Street

Press: Official IUA Press Release

Download Speech:  Micheál-Martin-TD-Speech-17-July-IUA-Future-of-Ireland-Event.pdf (68 downloads)

Watch full speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8cIg0evKd8



Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin with Dr Lisa Keating, Director of Research and Innovation at IUA and Prof. Brian MacCraith, Chair of IUA and President of DCU.

Sept 17th – Launch of Ireland’s Future Talent – A Charter for Irish Universities

Irish universities are central to delivering the future talent, creativity and innovation needs of the economy and society as a whole. As the sector deals with the legacy of a decade of under-investment, it now faces the dual challenge of maintaining the quality and reputation of its graduates and research work while dealing with ever-increasing student numbers.

The seven universities, under the auspices of the Irish Universities Association, have come together to develop a Charter on what’s needed to deliver on the government ambition to make the Irish education system the “best in Europe” by 2026. The six-point Charter lays down a framework for developing a sustainable Irish university system and the resources need to deliver it.

When: Sept 17th 2017, 11am-12pm

Where: Royal College of Physicians, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2 

Press:  Video Highlights of Charter Event  & IUA Official Press Release

April 4th – Launch of Delivering for Ireland – An Impact Assessment of Irish Universities

Indecon Research Economists were appointed by the IUA in 2018 to conduct the 1st ever sectoral impact assessment of its member Universities.

Join us as we officially launch this independent report, which we hope will provide a greater understanding of how our seven universities contribute to the national economy and the social and cultural fabric of the country. Attendance at the launch will comprise representatives from education, business, civil service, public bodies, FDI, trade and professional organisations, political parties and media.

When: April 4th 2019. Registration from 9am.

Where: Convention Centre Dublin

Press:  Impact Animated Video & Official IUA Press Release

Jan 29th – How can Ireland’s Universities compete with the best in Europe?

The seminar was organised by the IUA and featured contributions from a range of leading participants on how Ireland’s system compares to other European third-level systems. The seminar was also briefed about a new European Universities Initiative, which seeks to strengthen strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encourage the emergence by 2024 of some twenty ‘European Universities.

When:           Tuesday January 29th –  Registration 7.30am

Where:         Lighthouse Cinema

Press:          Video Highlights of EventOfficial IUA Press Release















MC’d by Ella McSweeney





EU Commissioner for Education, Tibor Navracsics

Navracsics-Speech-IUA-Breakfast-Seminar.pdf (27 downloads)





Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD

Minister’s Press Release



Panel Discussion:

Thomas Estermann
– Director Governance, Funding and Public Policy at the European University Association

Thomas-Estermann-Ireland-Presentation-29January22.01.pdf (27 downloads)




Catherine Day
– Chair of the Governing Authority of UCC and former Secretary-General of the European Commission




Professor Jane Ohlmeyer
– Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute and Chair of the Irish Research Council




Dr Gemma Irvine
– Head of Policy and Strategic Planning at the Higher Education Authority and Irish National Delegate for the European Universities Initiative

IUA calls on Government to establish a sustainable core funding solution to support looming demographic bulge – 4th June 2019

As almost 124,000 Leaving and Junior Certificate students get ready to sit exams tomorrow (Wednesday), the Irish Universities Association is calling on the Government to set out a sustainable funding model to prepare for these and future generations of aspiring third level applicants. The numbers of students commencing exams are in the vanguard of a highly significant demographic bulge which will have a material impact on the funding per student at Ireland’s seven universities in the years ahead.

According to the Government commissioned Cassells Report, the number of students completing second level will peak in 2029 when it is projected to be 27% higher than 2015. This huge uplift in student numbers represents the equivalent of needing another one a half UCDs to cater for the inevitable demand in third level education.

We can see this growth replicated in the numbers attending university as stated in the recently published Indecon report on the impact assessment of Irish Universities, which stated that there has been a 50% increase in Irish university enrolments since the year 2000 and growing.  

Speaking about the demographic bulge and its impact on universities, Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said: “With the number of students completing second level expected to peak in 2029 when it is projected to be 27% higher than 2015, the majority of these students will want to continue in education—either in further education or higher education. Places simply must be provided for these young people.”

He continued: “The changing needs of the labour market will also demand an increase in life-long learning, part-time and more flexible higher education, which is still not sufficiently supported in the present system. I’m calling on the Government today to implement a sustainable core funding model so that current and future students can continue to avail of the opportunities a university education brings. If a sustainable core funding model is not delivered by Government, tens of thousands of today’s primary school pupils could be dis-enfranchised in years to come”. 


The Indecon report can be found in full here – https://saveourspark.ie/universities-impact/

For media queries please contact:

Louise Walsh

Drury Porter Novelli

01 260 5000 / 087 775 7725


Campus Engage & IRC Brokerage Event to match Researchers with CSOs to develop Research Partnerships with Societal Impact

Irish University Researchers Working with the Public to Address our Greatest Societal Challenges

 On Monday, 27 May, 2019, Campus Engage and the Irish Research Council will bring together civic, civil society organisations, researchers, social entrepreneurs, Government Department officials and funding agencies to discuss how we can better work together to address some of our greatest societal challenges, including cancer diagnostics; housing crisis; ageing demographics; climate action.

The meeting will be framed around Ireland’s UN Sustainable Development Goals Implementation Plan; and how we better utilise existing infrastructure to maximise impacts from public investment in research, to make real effect in the day to day lives of all people.

Participants at the event will have the opportunity to share insights, learn about national and European Commission funding opportunities, and network with researchers, policy makers, civil and civic society organisations (CSOs) and social enterprises to investigate potential engaged research partnerships.

Campus Engage, based at the IUA advocates that when researchers work with research stakeholders, such as patients or people directly affected by the housing crisis, this maximises the potential use of research in real world settings and provides a better return on public research investment.  It improves the quality and efficiency of research, making it real-world ready; and avoids duplication of effort and investment.


For more information contact: Kate Morris, kate.morris@iua.ie, 086 8166490

Ireland leads International PhD Programme to research trauma experienced by Refugees – June 20th

Biggest EU Funding drawdown to date of €12.9million for Innovative Training Network Call in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions / Horizon 2020

Today (Wednesday June 20th 2018) is World Refugee Day, held every year to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.  The latest figures from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, show that at least 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced within their own countries or across borders. Many have been exposed to highly traumatic experiences resulting in complex mental health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder.

EU Funding of €3.3m from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020 has enabled the Centre for Global Health in Trinity College Dublin to lead an International PhD Programme for research into trauma-exposed populations. The project entitled ‘CONTEXT’ (COllaborative Network for Training and EXcellence in psychoTraumatology’) will see twelve doctoral researchers study the psychological effects of exposure to traumatic life events among unique traumatised groups including refugees, asylum seekers and forcibly displaced migrants entering Europe from conflict zones.

Dr. Frédérique Vallières is a lecturer in the School of Psychology and the Principal Investigator of the CONTEXT project based at the Centre for Global Health in Trinity College Dublin: “The emphasis of the CONTEXT project is on conducting research that is of priority to the organisations and to the clients which they serve so as to ensure that research findings are translated into better procedures, policies, practices, and ultimately outcomes for vulnerable persons.” 

During the project the researchers will spend half of their training with implementing partner organizations including the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, SPIRASI and the Danish and Columbian Red Cross, gaining front-line experience working with survivors of traumatic exposure.

Rachel Frost is a PhD student at Ulster University, and is currently based in Ireland, working with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Spirasi, an Irish organisation which provides a range of specialist services for asylum seekers and refugees with a concern for survivors of torture: “Despite similar experiences individuals vary considerably in their psychological reaction to trauma. My research will evaluate the role that environmental factors play in determining an individual’s psychological response to trauma as such factors may be more amenable to intervention compared to pre-migratory trauma”.This alliance of academic and non-academic partners will generate knowledge that enables us to assess if we are appropriately responding to the mental health needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, and in addition, will contribute towards improved evidence-based interventions for traumatic stress”


Camila Perera is a PhD student at TCD and is currently on secondment with the Columbian Red Crescent: “Through my research with CONTEXT, I will be working with the Colombian Red Cross and the Psychosocial Reference Centre of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to study how Colombian Red Cross Volunteers who do not have a formal mental health qualification can be trained and supervised to provide a structured and simplified psychological intervention. A key deliverable of my research will be the development of an evidence-based protocol for Red Cross volunteers (in and outside Colombia) on how to implement simplified psychological interventions. I’ll be leaving on June 25th” for my first trip. During the project I’ll visit Colombia 3-4 times staying 2-3 weeks each time.”

Success for Ireland in Horizon 2020

CONTEXT is an Innovative Training Network (ITN). Figures release recently show that Ireland was successful in drawing down €12.9 million in EU funding via the MSCA Innovative Training Networks 2017 call. There were 9 coordinators from Irish institutions with a success rate of 14.6% compared to the EU 7.45% success rate.

Dr. Geraldine Canny, Head of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office based at the Irish Universities Association: “We are delighted with this excellent result for Ireland. These high quality doctoral training network programmes involve international collaborations between the academic, industry and CSO sectors in diverse research areas and will lead to increased numbers of entrepreneurial, highly employable graduates.”

Speaking about the benefits of being a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellow Camila says: “The fellowship has given me the opportunity to carry out action research in a humanitarian setting and to answer a research question that applies to an organization’s day-to-day work. The experience I gain through my MSCA ITN Fellowship will allow me to further my career in research in global mental health in humanitarian settings”.

For Dr. Vallières there are tangible benefits in being part of an Innovative Training Network: “The collaboration between our partner groups will provide researchers with a unique opportunity to make discoveries that would not otherwise be possible where these sectors work in isolation.” 



More Information:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie  01 6764948



IUA welcomes HEA Report showing University Students progressing well from first to second year – 18th May

The Irish Universities Association welcomes a new report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on progression rates. The latest data continues to show very strong levels of progression of first year students to second year with 86% of the 2014/15 first year undergraduate new entrants in publicly funded higher education institutions progressing to second year. 

Irish progression data compares very favourably with other much better funded HE systems in Europe.  The high levels of progression reflects the strong focus in the university sector on student success, despite a decade of under-investment by the state in higher education which has had a detrimental effect on staff:student ratios and on student support services.

According to Lewis Purser, Director of Learning & Teaching and Academic Affairs at IUA “Improving progression rates is a key objective of the universities and in order to meet this commitment, they need to be able to expand capacity in a sustainable manner. To ensure a high-quality student experience for all students, they must provide the necessary academic, pastoral and social supports, particularly for disadvantaged students who need them most, so that they can benefit from their higher education opportunities.

Responding to data in the report which shows that students from less well-off backgrounds are more likely not to progress, Lewis Purser commented; “Evidence from the universities shows that where supports are in place, access students do just as well if not better than the average student in terms of graduation and employment. Building on the success of access programmes such as DARE and HEAR, the core objective should not just be about getting a defined percentage of the population into university education but also about ensuring that they progress through university and graduate successfully. Access initiatives need investment to ensure all students can reach their full potential”.



Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA  lia.osullivan@iua.ie 085 7141414

University Researchers are working with communities and businesses to save bees as Ireland celebrates the inaugural World Bee Day – May 20th

Universities are buzzing about bee research

May 20th 2018 is the first ever World Bee Day. An initiative of the United Nations, it aims to highlight the importance of preserving bees and other pollinators and to ask everyone to take concrete actions to preserve and protect them. Bee populations in Ireland and across the globe have significantly decreased, making them more and more endangered. Of the 100 species of bees in Ireland one third of them are threatened with extinction. Researchers in universities across Ireland are playing their part working together and with community partners to ensure that bees survive and thrive.

Campus Engage is a national initiative set up by Irish universities to encourage university staff to mobilize partnerships with community organisations and the public to help them in finding solutions to pressing societal challenges through research.

Based at the Irish Universities Association, Kate Morris manages the Campus Engage Network: “There is a growing population of environmental researchers in Ireland, and across Europe, that are working with the public and community-based organisations to help collect valuable data to track cause and negative impact on Bee populations.  There is power in numbers, and growing understanding of the public that we too can take simple actions to make a change, to positively contribute to protecting the environment”.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, is an initiative of Prof Jane Stout from Trinity College, and Una Fitzpatrick at the National Biodiversity Data Centre, set up nearly 10 years ago following a study that indicated half of Irish bee species were in decline, and one third of Irish species were threatened with extinction.

The Plan is built on community engagement and calls to action schools, community groups and businesses to address 5 objectives:

  1. Make Ireland pollinator friendly
  2. Raise awareness
  3. Support beekeepers and growers
  4. Create the evidence base for action
  5. Track changes over time – in terms of the actions taken for pollinators, and in terms of monitoring bees across the island of Ireland.


According to Prof Stout; “Everyone loves bees these days so it’s great to work with farmers, schools, local communities, businesses and others to conserve bees. Our work relies on the good will of many different people – farmers, schools and businesses allowing us to sample or set up experiments on their land, providing us with information on how the land is manged; beekeepers providing us with honey samples to analyse; and citizen scientists helping us to “Count Flowers for Bees” – this is an ongoing project in which volunteers can log in, assess images of flowers, and contribute valuable data to help make a floral resource map of Ireland, identifying hotspots for bees. And in return, we do a lot of outreach and information sessions – with schools and the general public – on World Bee Day, I am kicking off a bee stewardship workshop series with a talk on bees and how they contribute to human well-being”.

The Pollinator Plan identified 81 actions and 68 organisations including government departments, charities, local councils, community groups and universities signed up to address these. Two years in, and over 90% of these actions are completed or in progress, and many more organisations have come on board. Prof Stout: “We have published sector-specific guidelines to inform people about practical actions they can take, and these are all based on evidence from research conducted here in Ireland where possible, or from overseas, and are co-created with the relevant stakeholders. We do an enormous amount of outreach, support on-going and new initiatives, and help co-ordinate the massive enthusiasm there is for bee conservation across Ireland”. The Pollinator Plan is currently working with the Tidy Towns organisers in running a pollinator competition with entries due in by May 23rd.

Bee Research in the Universities:

Professor Jane Stout, Botany, Trinity College Dublin:

Prof Stout has been at the forefront of wild bee research in Ireland for more than 15 years – she is a pollination ecologist who studies communities of plants and pollinators, and her work focusses on researching the drivers and consequences of bee decline, and what we can do to reverse that decline. Her work spans individual interactions between bees and flowers, and how bees react to the food they consume, to landscape-scale studies on how the structure and composition of the landscape influences pollinator communities, pollination services, and honey production, both here in Ireland and overseas. She has contributed to local, national and international research, policies and initiatives to conserve bees, particularly the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, and has many projects underway at the moment.


One of our current projects is investigating how very low (drinking water safe) levels of fertilizer and herbicide affect flowering plants, and the nectar and pollen they produce, and how this influences which bees and other flower visitors interact with them. This can help us to understand how agricultural run-off influences bees and other pollinators, and the ecological processes they contribute to.


In other farm-land projects, we are currently investigating how hedgerow structure relates to the insects that are found visiting flowers in hedgerows and in adjacent crop. This is so that we can make recommendations on optimal hedgerow management for bees and other flower-visiting insects, to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem service provision on farmland. 


We are also looking at how bee communities vary across gradients of urbanisation, and at which flower species those bees are visiting.  We want to determine the patterns of urban land use that support diverse communities of bees. We are also looking at the urban to rural interface, and at how intensity of agriculture affects bees, and at how honey chemistry varies according to where hives are located.


Bee decline is not just a problem in Ireland, it is of concern across the world. To investigate what is driving that decline, we are leading a multi-country investigation into managed and wild bee health across Europe as part of an EU-funded project. And in West Africa, we are looking at how management of habitat influences pollination of the socio-economically important shea crop, which is processed into shea butter for the food and cosmetics industries.”


Dr Jim Carolan, Department of Biology, Maynooth University:

Dr Carolan is a molecular biologist interested in understanding how bees work on the inside and how the stresses encountered in nature affect them on the cellular and molecular level. “We are particularly interested in how the chemicals that bees may encounter in the field, for example, affect their nervous and immune systems. Considerable research has now been conducted that highlights the dangers certain pesticides pose to bees and we wish to determine whether other commonly used chemicals pose similar risks. This research is not just about finding what is hazardous to bees but also what is safe. This is important to know if we are going to develop policies and practices that minimise the risk to our declining bee communities”.

 “We are also interested in assessing how Irish, some of our bees actually are.” This work involves conducting genetic analysis on the buff tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris from all across Ireland and comparing them to their European counterparts. Through this work Dr Carolan and his colleagues wish to confirm earlier research that indicates that Irish B. terrestris is quite distinct which will have major implications for bee conservation and the movement of bumblebees around Europe. “I think the most exciting aspect of this project is the coming together of researchers from many Irish institutions including Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway, University College Dublin, Carlow IT, The National Biodiversity Data Centre, The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine and many others.”

Ireland has a relatively small but highly active bee/pollinator research community and it is crucial that collaborations and the sharing of expertise are fostered. To achieve these aims, Professor Stout, Dr. Carolan and Dr. Stanley in addition to their colleague Dr. Blanaid White of DCU established the Irish Pollinator Research Network in 2016. Although they have different backgrounds and expertise these researchers are benefiting from this network and are actively collaborating on some very important projects. As Dr. Carolan states “We acknowledge the importance of taking a cross disciplinary approach to research and regardless of our differences we are united by the same goal- to save our bees”.

Dr Dara Stanley, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway:

Dr Stanley’s research focuses on the ecology and conservation of pollinators and their interactions with plants. There are a number of ongoing bee/pollinator projects in her lab:

We are currently interested in bees and pollinators in species rich grasslands. These habitats are one of the most important for bees and provide them with both flowers to forage on and places to nest. We’re working in the Burren to see whether agri-environmental management or landscape composition has the biggest effect on pollinator numbers in these grasslands. We’re also looking at one of Ireland’s rarest bumblebees, the shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum), and carrying out an in-depth study of its ecology in the Burren with the aim of informing a species-specific monitoring scheme for it in the future.

We are also interested in the contribution of both wild (wild bees, hoverflies etc) and managed (honeybees) pollinators to the production of Irish crops. We are investigating the importance of these pollinators to both apple and field bean crops in Ireland.

Finally, we are also interested in pesticide use and its implications for bees and other pollinators. Pesticides are an important component of modern agriculture, but at the same time their use can have implications for beneficial insects such as bees. We are interested in what these effects might be, but also how we can mitigate against them.”

Dr Mary Frances Coffey, Department of Life Sciences, University of Limerick:

The National Apiculture Programme (NAP) is an applied based research programme at University of Limerick which focusses on bee health or more specifically the control of Varroa destructor: an exotic pest which arrived into Ireland in the late 1990s and caused serious colony losses in managed honeybee colonies and caused many of the feral colonies to disappear. The main aim of the NAP is to develop an integrated pest management programme which is effective against the mite, whilst at the same time can be easily applied by beekeepers in the day to day management of their colonies but more importantly reduces beekeeper reliance on hard chemicals

Since an increase in colony losses is strongly correlated with insufficient control of Varroa, as part of NAP we have been monitoring winter losses using a standardised questionnaire completed by Bee Keepers across Ireland. This annual survey has allowed us to compile a reliable profile on the winter losses being experienced by beekeepers over the past 10 years and such information is necessary for the development of bee health strategies now and in the future.

As farming becomes more intensified, beekeepers were concerned with diversity and quantity of pollen available to honeybees. Pollen is an important protein source for bees, but the nutritional value of pollen differs between plants. To address beekeepers concerned we also got involved with another international study, CSI pollen which allow us to determine the diversity of pollens being collected by honeybee colonies in Ireland.


Contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association, lia.osullivan@iua.ie, 085 7141414


More Information:

All-Ireland Pollinator Plan www.pollinators.ie     

World Bee Day website: https://www.worldbeeday.org/en/about/the-project.html


Universities take home 6 awards in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards – 27th April

IUA congratulates the universities who took home 6 awards in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards at a ceremony in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham today.

The KTI Impact Awards recognise and showcase the success in knowledge transfer carried out in Irish Higher Education Institutions and publicly funded research organisations.

The awards acknowledge and celebrate the technology transfer offices, industry liaison offices and their staff on-the-ground who make knowledge transfer and commercialisation happen.

KTI is a joint collaboration between the Irish Universities Association and Enterprise Ireland. Since its inception, the culture of commercialisation of research outputs among researchers in Irish universities has been radically supported and enhanced.

Commenting on the awards Jim Miley, Director General of IUA said; “We are delighted that the success of our member universities in the knowledge transfer area has been recognised and rewarded.  KTI has become a key driver of change and innovation, enhancing knowledge transfer and ultimately creating value for businesses and the Irish economy.”

KTI’s management of the EI Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative which co-funds the university Technology Transfer Offices, has resulted in Ireland now having the infrastructure on which to build further success in innovation and knowledge transfer.

The awards were presented on the night by John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development

The university winners are:

University College Dublin was awarded the ‘Collaborative Research Impact Award’ for its research with ENBIO that helped the company to develop a novel thermo-optical coating to reflect radiation and protect spacecrafts.

University of Limerick was awarded the ‘Consultancy Impact Award’ where the engagement resulted in the development of a software application for Xtract 360 Ltd that can re-create a car crash in real time to alleviate issues with undetected fraudulent insurance claims.

Dublin City University was awarded the ‘Licence2Market Impact Award’ for a licence that has helped Iconic Translation Machines Ltd, a leading language technology software company, to launch the world’s first patent specific translator.

Dr Emily Vereker, Senior Patents & Licensing Manager, Trinity College Dublin was given the Knowledge Transfer Achiever Impact Award for the development of new patent management initiatives alongside her active case management role, coupled with sharing the TCD approach to patent portfolio management more widely within the sector.

DCU and NUI Galway also received Special Recognition Awards.



For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association
Lia.osullivan@iua.ie         01 6764948


Alison Campbell, Director, Knowledge Transfer Ireland
alison.campbell@knowledgetransferireland.com      T:  +353 (0)1 727 2738


Notes to editors:

The other 2 winners were:

Royal College of Surgeons Ireland was awarded the ‘Spin-out Company Impact Award’ for SurgaColl™, a venture-funded medical device company built on RCSI technology that supplies novel tissue regeneration products for surgical treatment.

DIT Hothouse was awarded the ‘Knowledge Transfer Initiative Award’ for devising a strategic inbound marketing strategy aimed at increasing industry awareness of its knowledge transfer offering.  

IUA welcomes Government announces €29.6m investment in frontier research – 22 March

The Irish Universities Association welcomes Minister Bruton’s announcement today of €29.6 million investment by the Irish Research Council in ‘frontier research’ projects. 

Thirty-six researchers will receive funding under the Irish Research Council’s new Laureate Awards to conduct ground-breaking research in the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

IUA is delighted that some of the first recipients of the new Laureate awards come from a number of our member universities including:

  • Dr. Sarah Doyle, based at Trinity College Dublin, whose research is focused on age-related vision loss;
  • Dr. Larisa Florea, based at Dublin City University, who will develop micro-vehicles to navigate through the human body to recognise, diagnose and treat a variety of diseases;
  • Dr. Jacopo Bisagni, based at National University of Ireland, Galway, who is researching how intellectual exchanges between Ireland, Brittany and Francia during the Carolingian age (c. AD 750-1000) laid the foundations of Europe as we know it;
  • Dr. Dawn Walsh, based at University College Dublin, whose research will explore the role played by independent commissions in peace processes.


Commenting on the announcement Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said: “The IRC Laureate Awards is an important milestone in research funding. It provides essential support for frontier basic research which helps Ireland to build its competitiveness in world class research. It is essential that this tranche of funding is further supported by increased investment in research as part of the government’s ambition to grow our research funding from the current level of 1.5% of GDP to in excess of 2%. Sustained investment in research is the best possible foundation for future economic growth.”


Click here for full Irish Research Council announcement


For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan  |  Communications and Projects Manager 
Irish Universities Association | Tel: +353 (0)1 6764948 | lia.osullivan@iua.ie  |  www.iua.ie  

University capital building fund must be matched by human capital investment – 16th February


The Irish Universities Association (IUA) welcomes the pledge by the government in the National Planning Framework “Project Ireland 2040” to invest €2.2 billion in capital expenditure in the higher education sector over the next decade. This marks a significant milestone for the sector following almost a decade of under-investment in the building facilities programme during the recession years.

The seven universities represented by the IUA have managed to maintain a minimum level of capital investment during those years through a mix of public and private funding. However, relying on philanthropy or commercial loan funding from banks such as the European Investment Bank is not sustainable.

Today’s decision, if followed through in successive budgets in the coming years, opens the way for the urgent upgrade of many outdated university facilities as well as expanding the building stock to cater for the expected influx of students. A HEA report on space found that major repair or replacement is required on 41% of the total space in the higher education sector with 18% of buildings being over 50 years old.

There is now a need to match this promised capital funding programme with a much-needed revised funding programme for the human capital in third level.

Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association, said: “The government has laid down an ambition, which we share, for the Irish higher education system to be the ‘best in Europe’ by 2026. The capital expenditure programme is one of the key ingredients required to deliver on that goal. However, we cannot realistically achieve such an ambition unless it is matched by a robust investment plan to develop the human capital. Universities are the gateway to jobs and innovation in the Irish economy. We look forward to an early decision by government to match the capital investment programme with an overhaul of the operational funding model for higher education which is long overdue.


For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan | Communications and Projects Manager 
Irish Universities Association | Tel: +353 (0)1 6764948 | lia.osullivan@iua.ie  |  www.iua.ie 


Notes for Editors

The Irish Universities Association www.iua.ie is the representative body for the seven universities in Ireland – University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, University of Limerick, University College Cork.

Extract from HEA First System Performance Report 2014-2016

“The HEA would warn that the current condition and extent of facilities and the absence of provision for new space, constitute a risk to the capacity of the system to deliver the very significant increase in new places that is required to meet growing demand.”

Extract from Cassells Report on the Future Funding of Higher Education

“A reduction in state capital grants along with reduced flexibility in core operating budgets since 2009 has resulted in a significant problem in the maintenance and upgrading of facilities over recent years.”

“Enhanced recurrent funding will allow universities and IOTs to meet some of the costs of day-to-day maintenance, minor works and equipment renewal from core budgets”.

IUA Statement on mismatch of Reporting Deadlines for US Federal Funding – March 20th

“Universities in receipt of US federal funding are required to submit audited financial statements prepared in accordance with US GAAP to the US Dept. of Education within six months of the institution’s financial year-end. However, it is not currently possible for Irish universities to comply with this deadline as they are required to have their accounts signed off by the Comptroller and Auditor General and this can’t happen within the six-month period.  The IUA lobbied on behalf of the sector and requested that the six month timeline, for submission of US GAAP financial statements, be extended to nine months. Lobbying efforts are ongoing.

This mis-match in reporting deadlines, which is outside of the control of universities, has recently led to a process change which resulted in delays providing funds to students in receipt of US Federal Student Aid. The IUA understands that individual universities have put procedures in place to ensure that students receive any funding due even though the universities may have to wait for some months to be reimbursed by the US Dept. of Education.”



May 15th: Minister Mitchell O’Connor launches European charter to promote gender equality in the university sector

TCD Release:

A charter to promote gender equality in the university sector was formally launched by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor at an event hosted by Trinity College Dublin this morning (May 15th, 2019).

Designed to promote stronger action on gender equality and research, the SAGE Charter of Principles for Gender Equality supports structural, cultural and political change to eradicate sexism, bias and other forms of discrimination in research and higher education. Higher education institutions across Europe will be invited to sign up to the charter.

At the event Trinity’s Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast formally endorsed the Charter on behalf of the Irish Universities Association. By supporting the Charter principles, Irish higher education institutions signal their commitment to addressing persistent gender imbalances and to responding to the European Research Area call for action on gender equality in research. This marks the first Irish signing of the SAGE Charter, which is being rolled out across European higher education institutions.

The 12 principles of the charter include a commitment to improve gender balance at all levels of academic careers; to eliminate the gender pay gap; to mainstream gender equality awareness and best practice in the daily operations of the institutions; to promote family-friendly policies and work-life balance and to eradicate bullying, sexual and moral harassment.

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted to launch the SAGE Charter of Principles for Gender Equality, which is devising and implementing interventions to advance gender equality in higher education. The Charter needs to be adopted by all research and higher education institutions. We cannot afford to lose the talent that we have invested in women. Building greater diversity contributes to greater creativity and innovation.  Role models are vital, and the global experience shows the value to our students in seeing the range of opportunities and experiences available to them.”

Led by Trinity Centre for Gender Equality and Leadership, the SAGE (Systemic Action for Gender Equality) project has developed a proven model that can be implemented throughout the European research sector and beyond. Funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, its goals are to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers; address gender imbalances in decision-making processes and strengthen the gender dimension in research programmes.

Welcoming the charter Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast commented: “Our world needs the full contribution of all genders if it is to meet all the great challenges that lie ahead. Recognising the vital role women can and do play in university life, we fully endorse the principles of this charter. It is another step along the important road towards full gender equality both here in Ireland and across Europe.”

The launch will be accompanied by a panel discussion on how gender equality can be implemented and accelerated within the Irish Higher Education sector, featuring contributions by Head of Policy and Strategic Planning at the Higher Education Authority Dr Gemma Irvine; Director General of the Irish Universities Association Jim Miley; Dr Annie Doona, Institute of Art Design and Technology Dun Laoghaire; and incoming President of the Graduate Students’ Union at Trinity Shaz Oye.

Director of Trinity Centre for Gender Equality and Leadership Professor Eileen Drew added: “Ireland is at the forefront in tackling gender equality in higher education, and it has been very exciting for the Trinity Centre for Gender Equality and Leadership, as coordinators of the SAGE European project, to work with our partners to spread this knowledge and experience across Europe. In 2013 Trinity played an instrumental role in forming the Athena SWAN national committee and a network of higher education institutions and stakeholders, beginning a process that has seen work toward gender equality in the Irish higher education sector growing every day.”



Fiona Tyrrell, Media Relations Officer, Public Affairs and Communications, Trinity College Dublin

tyrrellf@tcd.ie + 353 1 896 3551


Professor Eileen Drew, Fellow Emeritus
Director Trinity Centre for Gender Equality and Leadership
Trinity College Dublin

edrew@tcd.ie +353 1 896 3415 & 086 8547099


Notes to editor:

Photographs of the event taken by Fennell Photography (picturedesk@fennell-photography.ie  / 01 6689766)

The seven participating institutions in the SAGE project are Trinity College Dublin; Queen’s University Belfast; Università degli Studi di Brescia, Italy; Kadir Has University, Turkey; Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal; Sciences Po Bordeaux, France; International University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Further information about SAGE and the SAGE Charter are available here: http://www.sage-growingequality.eu/

Press Release 27 April: Employers and union bosses join students and industry leaders in calls for university and third level funding crisis to be tackled

Ibec, ICTU, USI, American Ireland and British Irish Chamber of Commerce support Irish Universities Association calls for action on funding

Saturday April 27th: The top leadership of the employers union, trades unions, student unions and industry representative bodies have today called for government action on the long-awaited reform of the funding of Irish university and higher education. Writing in a special Irish Universities Association (IUA) supplement published today, the leaders of Ibec, ICTU and USI have been joined by the American Ireland and British-Irish Chambers of Commerce in a concerted call for government action on the third level funding crisis.

In a first such collaborative call for action, the cross-sectoral coalition highlights the risk to Ireland of continuing inaction on the funding crisis and calls for an urgent response from government.

Ibec CEO, Danny McCoy describes the third level funding deficit as “an invisible crisis” that, he says “has already damaged our international reputation to attract research and business investment and is silently eroding our competitive edge”.

Patricia King, General Secretary of ICTU says that “investing in education and our universities is about investing in national ambition and greater opportunity for all.” She argues that “the most sustainable and equitable solution would be to move, over time, to funding the sector predominantly from the public purse.”

Her views are echoed by USI President, Siona Cahill who says that “education which is a public good should be publicly funded”.  The USI President points to the failure to increase funding for student grants since 2012 which she states “is a disgrace and makes education elitist and inaccessible for so many.”

John McGrane, Director General of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce warns that “consistent underfunding will not only impact on the quality of our higher education system, but also jeopardise potential FDI draw to the country. To secure our future economic success, we must act now,” he says.

American Ireland Chamber of Commerce CEO, Mark Redmond, says that a strategic decision on one of the recommended funding options by the 2016 Cassells report is required. He says the funding regime should “Provide a sustainable system for funding third level, promote inclusiveness between social backgrounds and be equitable regarding funding full-time, part-time and postgraduate pathways to attainment.”

These calls for action on funding follow the recent publication by the IUA of the Indecon report on the Impact of Irish Universities. The independent Indecon report found that the seven universities represented by the IUA contribute €8.9 billion annually to the economy. Crucially, Indecon have shown that the State makes a net financial gain from its investment in universities based on the increased tax take from higher-earning graduates resulting from their university education.

Commenting on the research Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “This report shows us in no uncertain terms that universities not only produce well-rounded, employable graduates but also generate a cash surplus for the State over the long-term. When we consider this along with the 50% increase in student enrolments since 2000, surely this provides a compelling case for the Government and the Oireachtas to prioritise the reform of the funding model for higher education. Without action our universities will face an intolerable strain on the already under-resourced system and opportunities afforded to today’s students may be curtailed for many current and future primary and secondary students”.




Summary Report: Delivering-for-Ireland_An-Impact-Assessment-of-Irish-Universities-2019-04.04.19.pdf (229 downloads)

Full Report: Indecon-Independent-Assessment-of-the-Economic-and-Social-Impact-of-the-Irish-Universities_full-report-4.4.19.pdf (146 downloads)


For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association

lia.osullivan@iua.ie; +353 (0)1 676 4948 I Direct: +353 (0)85 7141414 


Notes to editors

Indecon Research Economists were appointed by the Irish Universities Association, following a competitive tender process, to cover the combined impact of the seven universities represented by the IUA – Dublin City University, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Limerick.

The report is available to read in full at www.saveourspark.ie/universities-impact