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.”

Ends

………….

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”.

Ends

Downloads 

Supplement

Summary Report: Delivering-for-Ireland_An-Impact-Assessment-of-Irish-Universities-2019-04.04.19.pdf (155 downloads)

Full Report: Indecon-Independent-Assessment-of-the-Economic-and-Social-Impact-of-the-Irish-Universities_full-report-4.4.19.pdf (87 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

 

April 12th – Universities across Ireland in all-island collaboration

Presidents and Vice-Chancellors of ten universities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have met at Queen’s University Belfast.

At this meeting, all universities confirmed their commitment to collaborating, on an all-island basis, across a broad range of research and education initiatives.  

This includes proposals for a new All-Island Doctoral Training Partnership – Innovation Lab Ireland – with a focus on innovation. The partnership will bring together universities, industry, community and policy-makers across the island of Ireland to support innovation training and practice for postgraduates.

The ten universities will also take forward collaborations around key research themes in partnership with the CBI, Ibec, NI Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.  A particular focus for some of these collaborations will be on the opportunities emerging from the Belfast Region City Deal and the renewed emphasis on developing the Belfast to Dublin Corridor.

Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Greer, said: “There is enormous appetite and potential for universities and industry partners to work together to support the innovation and skills agenda, regardless of the outcome of Brexit.  An all-island approach provides a unique opportunity to create a real power-house of innovation in Ireland.

Professor Paddy Nixon, Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, said: “The magnitude of change and disruption that higher education, industry and wider society face is unprecedented. These challenges create a tremendous opportunity for institutions and leaders to find new ways of delivering value to our students and to the economy.  Working collaboratively, we will create an all-island ecosystem that will lead to new ways of working, the development of new technologies and ultimately economic opportunity for all.”

Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University and Chair of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), said: “On behalf of the seven universities in the Republic of Ireland represented by the IUA, I am pleased to say that we very much welcome the opportunity to deepen and broaden collaborations in education, research and innovation with our colleagues in Northern Ireland. We recognise the depth of complementary expertise available and the many possibilities for world-class research, especially in the context of technological innovation. By combining our resources in a strategic manner, we can truly develop our reputation as an ‘Island of Innovation.”

Angela McGowan, Director CBI Northern Ireland, said: “The business community recognises that universities are at the heart of all successful economies and therefore we are delighted to support this new and exciting approach to all-island university collaboration.  Over the last two decades the CBI along with our sister organisation Ibec in the Republic of Ireland, have witnessed the enormous benefits of all-island co-operation for trade and commerce.  However, we also appreciate that there is further to go before the all-island economy reaches its true potential

The CBI expects that this new higher education initiative will add great momentum to delivering that economic prize for both economies by raising our profile on the world stage in key research areas, attracting more investment into the island and creating more jobs for our young people.”  

ENDS

11th April – IUA welcomes Government announcement of €12m IRC investment in curiosity driven basic research

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) welcomes the announcement today by Ministers Joe McHugh and John Halligan of €12 million investment by the Irish Research Council in ground-breaking, basic research projects. 

Twelve researchers will each receive a maximum of €1million funding under the Irish Research Council’s Advanced Laureate Awards to conduct leading-edge research over four years in the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Commenting on the announcement Dr. Lisa Keating, Director of Research and Innovation at the IUA said: “IUA would like to see these awards embedded as annual calls as they have the potential to improve Ireland’s performance and enhance the success of Ireland-based researchers in competing for prestigious grants from the European Research Council and in Horizon Europe.”

Commenting on the recently published socio-economic impact study of the seven IUA universities Dr Lisa Keating said, “The independent Indecon assessment shows university R&D delivering an annual return to the economy of €1.5billion. The high quality of research across the universities is evident again in the Laureate awards with 140 applications received of which 12 were awarded and another 48 were deemed excellent and fundable if budget was available.”

IUA is delighted that all recipients of the advanced Laureate awards come from four of our member universities including:

Maynooth University

  • Patricia Palmer: ‘MACMORRIS (Mapping Actors and Contexts: Modelling research in Renaissance Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth century)’.

University of Limerick

  • Michael Zaworotko: ‘Switching adsorbent layered materials’. 

Trinity College Dublin

  • Adrian Bracken: ‘Understanding the impact of divergent PRC2 complex assemblies on chromatin landscapes and gene regulation’.
  • Lorraine O’Driscoll: ‘Extracellular vesicles in cancer’.
  • Seamus Martin: ‘Death receptors as integrators of cell stress-induced inflammation’.
  • Christine Casey: ‘Surface value: The agency and impact of craftmanship in the architecture of Britain and Ireland, 1680-1780’.
  • Stefano Sanvito: ‘eMag: a computational platform for accelerated magnetic materials discovery’.
  • Igor Shvets: ‘New concepts for superconducting tunnelling junctions’.

University College Cork

  • John Atkins: ‘Codes within THE CODE: Revealing hidden genetic information’.
  • Brendan Dooley: ‘Examining new sources for the European dimension of early modern news, integrating Ireland and elsewhere into the network of circulation, 1550-1700, to understand a forgotten but highly significant media landscape’.
  • Pádraig Ó Macháin: ‘The materiality of the late-medieval Gaelic vernacular manuscript (1100–1600): a study of inks and vellum in the Book of Uí Mhaine, the development of a materiality protocol from that study, and the refinement of that protocol through application to other Gaelic manuscripts from the same era’.
  • Colm O’Dwyer: ‘Battery performance in technicolor – photonic material circuitry and 3D printed batteries for probing electrochemical energy storage mechanisms and cell performance’.

ENDS

Contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 676 4948 / 085 714 1414

 

April 11th 10:15 – Michael Murphy elected as first ever Irish President of the European University Association

Breaking news Paris 11th April 10:15: The Irish Universities Association (IUA) are delighted to announce the election this morning of former President of University College Cork, Prof. Michael Murphy as the first ever Irish President of the European University Association (EUA). The announcement was made following election by representatives of all member universities and national rectors’ conferences during the EUA 21st General Assembly, which took place at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Michael takes the helm at the EUA at a pivotal moment for European and Irish universities and will serve as President from 2019 to 2023. 

The European University Association (EUA) represents more than 800 universities and national rectors’ conferences in 48 European countries. The organisation plays a crucial role in the Bologna Process and in influencing EU policies on higher education, research and innovation. The EUA Board consisting of nine members, including the EUA President is responsible for the preparation and implementation of the Association’s policy, the planning of its activities and the management of its affairs. 

Following his appointment, and outlining his aims as newly elected President of the EUA, Prof. Murphy said, “To be competitive and successful in the coming decades, Europe will need the strongest higher education and research system in the world. A “whole of Europe” deeply networked system of well resourced, autonomous but accountable universities will be the foundation for our continent’s economic and social success. EUA will provide sectoral leadership, draft the roadmap and support governments in creating the necessary legislative and investment frameworks”.

A former president of University College Cork, Michael was the IUA representative on the EUA Council for seven years, and was elected to the EUA Board in 2017.  He also serves as Chair of the EUA Steering Group for Teaching and Learning.

As a membership organisation the EUA supports the work of the IUA and what we are trying to achieve in Ireland, by providing best practice and guidance on a range of issues across research, innovation, teaching and learning, governance and finance.

Reacting to Prof. Murphy’s appointment, Prof. Brian MacCraith, President of DCU and Chair of IUA said, “We congratulate Michael on his appointment as the first Irish person to hold the office of President of the EUA and we look forward to working closely with him and the EUA team. His in-depth knowledge of the Irish sector will be an important factor in his new role. Over the next few years, Irish universities face a challenge to maintain our performance relative to other European universities. Brexit has led to an even greater focus on our collaboration with European universities and highlights the importance of working together, especially on major research projects. Likewise, the Macron-inspired European Universities Initiative aims to greatly increase cross-border collaboration and partnerships amongst Europe’s universities and offers new opportunities for Irish universities.”

ENDS

Contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 676 4948 / 085 714 1414 

Additional Notes:

More information on the work of the European University Association is at https://eua.eu/

Professor Murphy has held a variety of leadership roles, including President of UCC for a decade, Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Chair of the Health Research Board of Ireland, Chair of the Irish Universities Association, Chair of the Permanent Working Group (PWG) of European Hospital Doctors and Board member of the Irish Health Service Executive. In addition to the Scientific Advisory Board of the US National Dairy Council he has been active in many academic organisations in Europe and the United States. 

Media Release 4th April – Irish Universities contribute €8.89 billion to Irish economy annually

Indecon research identifies an average wage premium of 38% – 43% for university graduates over those with no formal education and a large cash payback to the State from investment in universities

Universities generate €386 million per annum in export earnings and €1.5 billion in R&D impacts 

Pictured at the launch were: (L-R). Alan Gray, Managing Director, Indecon, Professor Prof. Brian MacCraith, President of DCU and Chairman of the Irish Universities Association, students Cathal Curry, Marketing, Innovation and Technology student, DCU, Dion Davis, Masters in Education Student, UCC and Tony O’Donoghue, IBEC.

Thursday 4th April – The Irish economy benefitted by €8.9 billion last year from Ireland’s seven universities newly published research has confirmed. The first ever socio-economic impact research undertaken on the role universities play in the economy and society has been carried out by Indecon on behalf of the Irish Universities Association.

The Impact Study looks across a variety of areas to assess the impact universities have on research, society, the economy and individuals, including the benefits arising from international students.

Summary Report: Delivering-for-Ireland_An-Impact-Assessment-of-Irish-Universities-2019-04.04.19.pdf (155 downloads)

Full Report: Indecon-Independent-Assessment-of-the-Economic-and-Social-Impact-of-the-Irish-Universities_full-report-4.4.19.pdf (87 downloads)

Findings from the report include:

  • The seven universities contribute a total of €8.9 billion to the economy.
  • There has been a significant increase in the number of students enrolling for a university education which correlates with the demand for more highly skilled employees in the Irish economy. In 2017 over 120,000 students enrolled, up 50% from 2000.
  • Indecon have identified a cumulative net gain to the Exchequer of €1,606 million in net present value terms based on the lifetime net earnings projections for the 2017 – 2018 cohort of new entrants to the seven universities.  This is based on a net gain to the exchequer from the lifetime earnings of individual undergraduate degree holders of €62,000. In other words, the Exchequer gains a net €62,000 over the lifetime of the graduate in today’s money terms when all costs to the Exchequer are taken into account.
  • University graduates generate an income premium significantly beyond those with no third level education and have consistently lower unemployment rates, even during the recession years.
  • The average lifetime net premium for an undergraduate degree holder is €106,000 compared to a UK premium of £88,000 for graduates from the prestigious Russell Group Universities. Master’s Degree holders’ net premium rises to €146,000 and PhDs’ to €222,000. These figures are net of tax and factor in the costs incurred by students in obtaining their degrees and income foregone during their years at university.
  • Irish Universities make a total research impact of €1.5 billion to the economy. This breaks down into €632 million from direct research expenditure, €373 million spill-over impact of university-based research on the wider economy, and €526 million from indirect and induced effects.
  • In 2017 – 2018 there were 16,701 full-time International students living in Ireland. Indecon estimated that the total annual export income generated for the Irish economy from International students at €386 million.

The report provides further detail on the social and cultural impacts of Irish Universities along with supporting 22,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly.

There has been much debate over the economic return university education generates in Ireland without any rigorous scientific analysis of the actual impacts”, said Brian MacCraith, Chair of the Irish Universities Association. “This vacuum has not served the debate well and I am pleased to say that we have now got a detailed independent assessment on the impact Irish Universities have on our society, our economy and on us as individuals.

What is certain from the report is the significant positive impact Irish Universities are having, from the €8.89 billion contributed annually to the Irish economy to the 21,801 full-time jobs supported, including 15,724 directly employed.

“The 50% increase in student enrolments since 2000 is a precursor to an even greater demographic bubble which will place an intolerable strain on the already under-resourced university system. Unless the Government and the broader political community are prepared to deliver a sustainable core funding solution, the opportunities afforded to today’s students may be curtailed for many current and future primary and secondary students. As a society, we cannot let this happen.”

Commenting on the research Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “The role of universities is to produce well-rounded, employable graduates and to provide centres of innovation through their research work. The Indecon report shows for the first time that, universities not only do that but also generate a cash surplus for the State over the long-term. This surely provides a compelling case for the Government and the Oireachtas to prioritise the reform of the funding model for higher education.  Next Sunday will mark the 1,000th day since the Cassells Report, the Government-appointed Expert Group, identified the scale of the funding gap for higher education and made clear recommendations about dealing with it. The Indecon Report shows that more State investment in university education isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the profitable thing to do.”

Speaking about the research, Alan Gray, MD of Indecon said: “This analysis is the first of its kind in Ireland.  Indecon undertook a rigorous evidence-based examination on the full range of impacts of Irish universities on the Irish economy and society generally. Ireland has a more highly educated population than the EU average which is often cited as a key reason both multinational organisations and indigenous enterprises base operations here. Our analysis shows the positive impacts that universities have on research and innovation, on graduates earning power and on the positive returns to the Exchequer for their investment.”

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.

Ends

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 

 

Additional Notes 

Indecon assembled a broad range of data from the universities themselves as well as from public bodies such as the Higher Education Authority, the Central Statistics Office, the Department of Education and Skills and others. Their independent assessment was completed throughout 2018 and early 2019. The Indecon analysis involved detailed econometric modelling in line with best practice approaches for such studies. The Indecon approach is based on a conservative methodology and is in accordance with the latest research notes and guidelines published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Indecon Research Economists is the largest independent economic research consultancy practice in Ireland and is part of Indecon International Consultancy Group which includes the leading European consultancy, London Economics.

 

 

 

Media Release 2nd April – Irish Universities Association signs agreement with Indonesia to give PhD training to Indonesian University Lecturers

The IUA signed an agreement in Jakarta today with the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (MoRTHE) in Indonesia to participate in its overseas scholarship programme as a trusted partner. The programme places PhD candidates into Irish Universities who are currently lecturing in Indonesian Universities.  The agreement is for 5 years and the IUA hope to see over 300 students progress through the program.  The agreement signing was witnessed by representatives of a number of Irish universities travelling in the region.

This follows on from the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the fields of Higher Education and Research signed by the MoRTHE with the Department of Education and Skills in Ireland in September 2018, in Jakarta by then Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton.

There are over 4,000 public and private universities in Indonesia, of which over 17,200 hold a Master’s level degree. The MoRTHE is investing in the development and training of these lecturers to improve the quality of higher education in the country. Overseas PhD placements are an option for some lecturers who meet the requirements of the MoRTHE, these include an English language level of 6.0 on the IELTS score and as well as holding a permanent lecturing position at one of the Indonesian Universities. Since 2008 the MoRTHE has sent over 2000 lecturers abroad to undertake PhD Doctoral training.

In 2017 the IUA, with the support of Education in Ireland and the Irish Embassy in Jakarta, led a delegation of its seven member universities to Indonesia to meet with education government officials and some of its universities.  It was immediately apparent that the PhD offering in Ireland was an excellent fit for the capacity building needs of Indonesia. Ireland’s reputation as leaders in doctoral education in Europe has proved very attractive for international PhD candidates.

Sinéad Lucey, Head of International Affairs and External Engagement at the IUA said: “It has been our great pleasure working in co-operation with the staff at Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education in Indonesia. The IUA is looking forward to growing this partnership and developing the relationship between Irish and Indonesian universities. This agreement is as a result of a ‘team Ireland’ approach. Indonesia is the largest country in the ASEAN region and a valuable partner for higher education institutions. There are many internationalisation opportunities for Irish Universities with Indonesian universities. The support of Education in Ireland and the Embassy in Jakarta has been so important in this process. Ireland is a small country and when the agencies collaborate effectively, it equals success.  Critically the involvement and continued involvement of key academic staff and the Deans of Graduate studies in the universities has been instrumental in getting the agreement over the line. A delegation from the Ministry visited all seven IUA member universities in January 2019 and were highly impressed at the PhD offering in Ireland. The delegation also identified significant opportunities for Indonesian universities to further engage with Irish universities. I hope that the IUA partnership with the Ministry is a stepping stone to a long standing mutually beneficial relationship that will lead to high quality internationalisation in both systems. “

The MoRTHE’s Director General of Resources for Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Professor Ali Ghufron Mukti states that recently the MoRTHE reinstalled the so-called BPPLN Scholarship, which is an Overseas Doctoral Scholarship Programme dedicated to Indonesian lecturers. Through the programme, Indonesian lecturers will have more opportunities to pursue their PhD degrees overseas with the funding support from the Indonesian Government. The programme also opens up more opportunities for overseas universities to be strategic partners, as the programme will prioritize those universities who are willing to offer special support to the students nominated by the MoRTHE. Thus the MoRTHE welcomes IUA as the new strategic partner for the abovementioned program, as IUA offers not only internationally recognized universities but also financial privileges to the qualified students nominated by the MoRTHE. This is a mutually beneficial partnership.

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 

4th Feb – Galway City Council pass Unanimous Motion in Support of more funding for Higher Education

The IUA welcomes the unanimous vote from Galway City Councillors which calls on the government to act on the Cassells Report and provide a sustainable funding model for third level education.

Councillors are well placed to understand the real pressures that students and families are under as a result of a decade of under-funding and know how important universities are in their local economies such as Galway.

 

IUA Media Release: Ireland joins Serbia as Europe’s only third level systems ‘in danger’ due to funding shortfall and rising student numbers, European research finds 

Opportunities for Ireland in new European Universities Initiative also outlined by EU Commissioner for Education

Tuesday 29th January – The Irish universities sector is one of just two European countries with a third level system ‘in danger’ resulting from a shortfall in funding and increased student numbers, according to European research presented at a seminar today.

The seminar was organised by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the representative body for Ireland’s seven universities, 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. These networks of universities will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities.

Pictured are Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport with Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education and Brian MacCraith, President of DCU and Chair of Irish Universities Association.   

The seminar also heard from speakers including Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.; Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the EU Commission and Chair of UCC Governing Authority; Gemma Irvine of the HEA; Prof Jane Ohlmeyer, Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the Irish Research Council; and Thomas Estermann, Director of Governance and Funding at European Universities Association and a leading authority on how European countries compare for third-level funding.

Estermann also presented figures which showed how Ireland is the second-bottom country in the EU ahead only of Croatia for staffing autonomy, the independence of universities to make decisions on staff recruitment.

Thomas Estermann said: “While recurrent funding to Irish universities increased in 2017 and 2018 after almost a decade of cuts, the long-term sustainability of the higher education system in Ireland remains an issue. Funding per student has declined, and third level capital infrastructure is underfunded. Meanwhile restrictions remain on staff recruitment, leaving Ireland near the bottom for the autonomy of its universities to recruit staff. Ireland’s GDP growth suggests possibilities for renewed investment in its universities.”

Commenting on the figures Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “We need to take notice of what is happening in other European countries and how Ireland’s universities system compares in a European context, particularly in terms of funding levels and autonomy. These figures illustrate just how out of step Ireland is with our European neighbours when it comes to funding third level education and supporting the autonomy of our third level institutions. Despite the significant increase in third level students, which now stands at an all-time high, the higher education sector in Ireland remains seriously underfunded. The Government and the Oireachtas must prioritise the reform of the funding model for higher education as recommended by the Cassells Report, the Government-appointed Expert Group that reported almost three years ago.”

Speaking about the European University Initiative, Jim Miley said: “Ireland’s universities are already taking advantage of opportunities for collaboration with their European colleagues under the new European Universities Initiative, building on the strong links they enjoy with European-wide institutions through research collaboration, Erasmus and other programmes.”

Earlier this month Trinity College Dublin became the first Irish university to join a new partnership under the European University Initiative. Together with four other prestigious universities across Europe, including the University of Barcelona, Utrecht University, the University of Montpellier and Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, TCD has signed an agreement for the Charm European University (Charm-EU) which will focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals providing an interdisciplinary, challenge-based education.

ENDS

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 

 

­­

Note to Editors:

About the European Universities Initiative

The ‘European Universities’ concept has been officially approved by the Ministers responsible for higher education in the European Higher Education Area as the result of the 2018 conference on the topic. It was preceded by the conclusions of the European Council in December 2017. The concept of the European Universities aims to increase the EHEA global competitiveness by supporting close alliances of the EU universities fostering top-quality education, research and innovation.

What is a European University?

Transnational alliances promoting European values and identity, and revolutionising the quality and competitiveness of European higher education.

In order to achieve this the European Commission has launched a new call to test different cooperation models based on the following principles:

  • An alliance of chosen partners from all types of higher education institution covering a broad European geographic scope;
  • With a co-envisioned long-term strategy focussed on sustainability, excellence and European values;
  • Offering student-centred curricula jointly delivered across an inter-university campus, where a diverse student body can build their own programmes and experience mobility at all study levels;
  • Taking a challenge-based approach where students, academics and external partners can cooperate in cross-disciplinary teams to tackle the biggest issues facing Europe today.

Call for Proposals:

The European Commission has published its 2019 call for proposals for the Erasmus+ programme. The total budget is estimated at nearly €3 billion (€2,733.4 million), marking an increase of approx. 10% compared to 2018.

€30 million of this has been earmarked for European Universities, taking forward this initiative as endorsed by the EU leaders and as part of the EU’s ambitions to build a European Education Area by 2025.

Under Key Action 2 (Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices) of the 2019 Erasmus+ call, funding is available to 6 experimental European University alliances to test the concept. 

 

 

 

IUA dismayed at attacks on university autonomy and academic freedom in Hungary -13th December 2018

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is dismayed by the latest developments in Hungary involving attacks on university autonomy and academic freedom, resulting in the Central European University (CEU) moving a large part of its activities out of Hungary from the 2019-20 academic year. The IUA echoes calls from other concerned observers for the Hungarian government to be mindful that freedom from political intervention and pressure is an essential condition for universities to fulfill their critical role in society. It is essential that universities across Europe maintain their autonomy and capacity to speak with an independent voice at a time of increasing uncertainty and fragility in our democracies.

Ends.

 

Please contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 676 4948 / 085 714 1414

 

Notes:

 For more information on the issues faced by CEU – https://www.ceu.edu/category/istandwithceu

IUA’s 2017 letter of support to CEU https://www.ceu.edu/sites/default/files/attachment/article/18817/irishuniversitiesassociation.pdf

IUA welcomes publication of Gender Taskforce Equality Action Plan 2018 – 12 Nov 2018

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) today welcomed the Report of the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan 2018-2020. The IUA is fully committed to working with the Minister and Department of Education and Skills to implement the recommendations arising from the Report in order to bring about meaningful and sustainable change in gender equality in universities.

The seven member universities of the IUA have already committed to implementing in full the Taskforce recommendations in the recently published Charter for Universities as part of their active programme on equality, diversity and inclusion. This builds on the progress already achieved in recent years including the achievement of Athena Swan Bronze Award status by all seven universities and rapid progress on gender balancing in the executive management teams and Governing Authorities.

Welcoming the Taskforce Report recommendations, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “The IUA and its member universities are wholly supportive of the Taskforce recommendations and commit to working with the Department of Education to accelerate progress in gender balancing. This is an opportunity for delivering a step-change in gender equality across higher education. It will require concerted effort from all stakeholders to deliver the required change including the Department, funding agencies and the higher education institutions. We want to particularly acknowledge the leadership role of the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor in establishing this Taskforce and driving change on gender equality.”

Universities have made progress in this area including:

  • All seven universities have received Athena Swan Bronze institutional awards. Securing Athena SWAN accreditation, the internationally recognised quality mark for gender equality, is an important enabling process for universities to progress the equality agenda. Currently only 9 institutions in Ireland hold this award.
  • 5 out of 7 university governing authorities are comprised of at least 40% of each gender.
  • 5 out of 7 university executive management teams are comprised of at least 40 % of each
  • All seven universities have appointed, or are in the process of appointing, Vice-Presidents for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This means the equality agenda will be represented at the senior management level in each university.

The IUA looks forward to participating in the soon to be established Working Group to implement the recommendations of the Gender Taskforce.

Ends.

 

 

For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan | Head of Communications
Irish Universities Association | lia.osullivan@iua.ie | www.iua.ie  

Tel: +353 (0)1 6764948 | Direct: +353 (0)1 7996022 

Consultation on Strategy for National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning – deadline 30 Nov

the National Forum has begun a consultation on its 2019-2021 Strategy.

The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2018.

The National Forum is currently developing its strategy to the end of 2021. This strategy will inform teaching and learning policy and practice in the years
to come. This means, if you are reading this, it is likely to impact directly upon your work or studies.

The strategy will focus on four key areas:
— The professional development of those who teach
— Teaching and learning within disciplines
— Teaching and learning in a digital world
— Enabling Student success

It is crucial that their strategy is informed by those who learn, teach, lead, develop policy or shape practice in Irish higher education.
We invite you to help us decide how best to focus our resources and attention within these key areas.

To respond, go to 

www.teachingandlearning.ie/Consultation2018

or email your thoughts to consultation@teachingandlearning.ie

 

 

Seven universities launch ‘Save Our Spark’ campaign, urging public to sign petition to protect Ireland’s third level education system – 15th Oct

IUA warns inaction could lead to a serious drop in quality or a shortfall in places for students in the future

Ireland’s seven universities have today (October 15th, 2018) launched a major campaign aimed at encouraging the public to demand that the Government tackles the funding crisis in third level education. State funding per third level student in Ireland at €5,000 is barely half of what it was a decade ago and a fraction of what it is in other similar-sized European countries.  Budget 2019 last week, while providing a small funding increase, did not address the underlying gap in funding.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) developed the Save Our Spark campaign following more than two years of inaction after the publication of the Cassells Report in which meaningful funding reform for higher education was recommended by a Government-appointed expert group.

The Save Our Spark campaign seeks to raise awareness of the crisis and encourage members of the public to sign a petition urging their local TD or Senator to act now.

From today, a series of adverts will run on national and regional radio stations. The ad will also appear in trains and buses and the Dart across Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, as well as at all seven university campuses. A short video, which was specially created to highlight the crisis, will be promoted across YouTube and key social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Launching the Save Our Spark campaign, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “If the higher education crisis is not addressed by Government urgently, then we risk a serious drop in quality or a shortfall in places for students in the future.  For the first time ever, all seven Irish universities are coming together to demand urgent action on the funding crisis, as we need substantial investment to accommodate the extra students that are expected to enter the system over the next decade.  Our universities are where the Irish spark burns brightest and the key to protecting that spark is securing better state funding. The Government simply can’t continue to ignore this crisis. It’s time to take action now and we’re encouraging students, their parents and everyone with an interest in the future of the country to visit the Save Our Spark website,  sign our petition and contact public representatives about the issue.”

For more information, please visit the Save Our Spark website 

ENDS

For media queries, please contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 676 4948 / 085 714 1414

IUA Response to Budget 2019 – State funding per student in third level not addressed by Budget – Oct 9th

No real progress on closing the core funding gap

The government has done very little to address the growing crisis in third level funding in Budget 2019. The allocation of €57m million in ‘extra’ funding on top of existing commitments on national pay increases, while welcome, only allows the system to tread water. The bulk of the money is ring-fenced for specific purposes and does not deal with the core funding gap. The promise of a Human Capital Initiative Fund in two years’ time does nothing to address the current funding shortfall.

State funding per student remains virtually unchanged as the small allocation of extra funds is mopped up by increasing student numbers. State funding per third level student in Ireland at €5,000 is a fraction of that in Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland, countries with whom we are in competition for investment.   

Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said: “It is a serious cause of concern that the government has not prioritised the education of the future workforce of the country. Third level funding is critical to generating the talent pool for the economy. Our future economic competitiveness will be eroded if the public funding deficit is not addressed.

It’s patent nonsense for the Minister to continue to talk about having the ‘best education system in Europe by 2026’ while presiding over a funding regime that only provides a fraction of the funding per student of those best countries in Europe.”

There’s nothing in the Budget to address the major facilities upgrade that’s required in Irish universities. A funding requirement of at least €104 million in 2019 was proposed by the Irish Universities Association as part of a 5-year University Capital Refurbishment Programme after a decade of neglect. Students cannot be expected to perform at their best in sub-standard facilities.

The idea of a skills and talent-focused initiative such as the Human Capital Fund announced in the Budget is welcomed by universities. However, this amounts to no more than a future promise and does nothing to address the needs of the quarter of a million strong student population in our third level system.

The Budget represents a missed opportunity to deal with the long-accepted crisis in third level funding and to act on the recommendations of the Cassells Report for meaningful funding reform.

Ends

 

For further information, contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications lia.osullivan@iua.ie; 085 7141414, 01 6764948

 

State Funding per Student European Comparators

Source: European University Association, Public Funding Observatory 2017

NOTE: The funding per student figure for Ireland in 2019 is unlikely to change significantly as any extra money will be absorbed by the extra students entering the system.

Recruiting: Project Manager for the Irish Survey of Student Engagement – applications by Friday Sept 28th

The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) operates as a shared service funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for institutions under its remit and is co-sponsored by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).  The national partnership is seeking to appoint a Project Manager who will be employed by THEA on behalf of the project partners.

Reporting to the four ISSE co-sponsors, the Project Manager manages engagement with participating higher education institutions and other stakeholders; coordinates activities of project working groups; manages the contract with the external data processing contractor; and ensures project coherence and consistency.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Acting as primary liaison for project stakeholders – institutions, national bodies, technical contractor – as well as for other interested external parties
  • Acting as secretariat to the ISSE Steering Group and project working groups
  • Ensuring key deliverables are provided to institutions – promotional materials, data files, national reports
  • Ensuring analysis and reporting of national results from the ISSE and the new ISSE-PGR are undertaken in a timely manner
  • Ensuring effective management of all aspects of the project including: meetings for working groups, finance, data management, documentation, and regular reporting to the Steering Group and project co-sponsors
  • Maintaining effective communications for the project, including website, social media and regular email information updates

The person appointed will have:

  • An appropriate third-level qualification at NFQ Level 8 [or equivalent] or above
  • A proven track record in ability to conduct analysis on large data sets and present findings to stakeholders
  • Project management experience
  • Familiarity with the operation of the higher education sector in Ireland and / or abroad
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written
  • Good interpersonal skills and the ability to negotiate in a multi-stakeholder environment
  • An ability to interact in a confident way with people

Download the Job-Description-ISSE-Project-Mgr-2018-09.pdf (117 downloads)

A knowledge of statistical analysis software, such as SPSS, and a qualification in project management is also desirable.

This is a full-time, three year contract post which offers an excellent career opportunity for a positive, innovative and dynamic professional with an attractive remuneration package on offer for the right candidate. Further details of the project are available at www.studentsurvey.ie

Please forward, in confidence, no later than 5pm on Friday 28th September 2018, a curriculum vitae accompanied by a covering letter outlining your suitability for the post to: margaret.coen@thea.ie

THEA is an equal opportunities employer. Shortlisting of candidates may take place.

IUA Op-Ed 6.07.18 – Funding reform needed for quality and growth of third-level sector

State’s future tied to adequate investment to ensure educational opportunity for all

Jim Miley, Director General, Irish Universities Association
As featured in the Opinion section of the Irish Times 06.07.18

Benjamin Disraeli: photograph: John Jabez Edwin Mayall/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends
History regards Benjamin Disraeli as a reforming political leader. His contention that education determines the fate of the country is as apt today as it was when he spoke in the House of Commons on June 15th, 1874. The leaders of main political parties in Ireland seek to position themselves as reformers. Their success in this regard will be ultimately determined by their actions and adjudicated by the electorate. History will be kind to genuine reformers, particularly when that reform benefits the country today and in the years ahead.

The Government has an ambition to have a “Best in Europe” higher education system by 2026. The seven universities in the State share that ambition. This is not some lofty broad-brush objective to be achieved for the sake of national pride. Higher education is a cornerstone of our national infrastructure. The development of higher education as a national enabler across so many aspects of society is crucial to the wellbeing of Ireland and its people in an increasingly competitive world.

Sadly, exchequer investment in Irish universities has diminished year on year over the past decade. The financial crisis demanded that exchequer funding was cut to so many important sectors in national life. However, the reduction in core funding to universities, combined with the steady increase in students seeking a third-level qualification, has fundamentally undermined the financial model. If this is not fixed, and soon, the country’s economic future may be jeopardised as warned by Ibec and others.

A modern democracy and developed economy should demand the initiative whereby the primary and secondary school children of today can be certain of a high-quality, third-level education.

The evidence of detrimental impact has been greatly mitigated by universities becoming more efficient and resourceful. Because of the funding reductions, the increased enrolment in recent years has been funded by internal efficiencies and other cost-cutting measures which are now largely exhausted. Universities continue to successfully use philanthropy, enterprise and debt to fund necessary capital and developmental projects. But the kernel is core funding; funds used for teaching, learning and research. Core funding per student has halved in the last decade.

Peak demand

The number of students completing second level will peak in 2029 and is projected to be 27 per cent higher than in 2015. These students are currently in second class in primary school. Many of today’s seven and eight year olds will be seeking access to third-level education at a point of peak demand. If the funding problem is not fixed, there may not be places available for some of them.

A modern democracy and developed economy should demand the initiative whereby the primary and secondary school children of today can be certain of a high-quality, third-level education if they wish to pursue their ambitions and potential. However, time is not on our side.

The political inaction on the report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education (the Cassells report) is of serious concern in this context. All political parties express a strong regard for the Cassells report but we’re no closer to a solution. The report was produced 26 months ago and Cassells said “there is a need and a desire for urgent reform of the funding landscape. The funding system is simply not fit for purpose.” Over two years have passed and “urgent” is now developing into a crisis.

Budget 2018 brought a welcome but modest initial increase in core funding for higher-level education. However, the gap in core funding to 2021 based on Cassells’s analysis remains in excess of €550 million. It is essential that this gap to 2021 is bridged if there is to be any meaningful progress towards achieving “Best in Europe”.

International rankings

This investment would allow universities to absorb the growth in student numbers while starting to address the underlying quality issues which have arisen from years of underfunding, which are now beginning to become evident in international rankings. This investment must also enable universities to enhance their efforts to improve access and to better respond to skills needs in the knowledge economy.

On behalf of the seven universities, the Irish Universities Association has made a budget submission to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe on the core funding required for higher education in 2019. We have also flagged the increments required for the subsequent years to bridge the gap identified by Cassells and associated capital expenditure necessities.

The Minister is assailed by budget requests from all the departments and from many vested interests. Many of these requests have a solid rationale. It must, however, be difficult, if not impossible, for the political community to avoid genuinely addressing a critical investment on which the fate of the country and its core talent depends.
The Government and indeed all political parties need to step up to the plate on third-level funding. Any further prevarication will negatively impact tens of thousands of primary and secondary pupils as well as the student generation attending third-level institutions across Ireland today.

IUA Media Release 5th July – University sector needs major investment in Budget 2019

€130m increase in core current funding and €104m lift in capital investment.
Future economic competitiveness threatened by government inaction.

Budget 2019 must be used to inject essential resources into our universities according to Jim Miley Director General of the Irish Universities Association.

“This Budget must urgently address the underlying quality issues arising from a decade of underfunding as well as building capacity to absorb the significant growth in student numbers. We are seeking an increase of €130m in core current funding and €104m in essential capital upgrades in 2019. State funding per student now is just half what it was ten years ago.”

“It is now 725 days since the Cassells Report was published and the sector cannot continue to deliver without the politicians of Ireland grasping the funding challenge for the university sector. Already this year, we have seen a decline in our position in international ranking systems. Without significant additional investment, universities cannot enhance their efforts to improve access and better respond to skills needs across the economy.”

The Cassells report, Investing in National Ambition, set out a clear rationale and strategy for the future funding of higher education and a choice of options to achieve that. The funding requirements for the sector, as laid out by Cassells, includes the following key elements:

• An additional €600 million per annum in core funding by 2021 as compared with 2015
• A capital investment programme of €5.5 billion by 2030

Jim Miley continued: “Budget 2018 brought a welcome but modest initial increase in core funding for higher level. However, the gap in core funding to 2021, based on the Cassells analysis, remains in excess of €550 million. That is a massive gap! It is essential that this funding gap is bridged if there is to be any meaningful progress on achieving the Government’s ambition to have a ‘best in Europe’ higher education system. Or to put it more bluntly, failure to bridge the gap leaves Ireland trailing behind competing nations.”

The €130m increase for core current funding for universities for Budget 2019 is comprised of €90m investment in capacity and quality and €40m to meet known unavoidable cost increases in 2019 arising from national pay awards and other centrally imposed cost increases.

The additional capital investment of €104m is required to address critical upgrades of essential equipment and infrastructure in order to provide facilities appropriate to the 2019 needs of students. The legacy of a decade-long neglect of essential repair and maintenance due to lack of money has resulted in a catalogue of ‘red-letter’ health and safety-related issues to be dealt with in university facilities. Failure to address the extensive refurbishment requirements at this point will inevitably lead to far more extensive costs in the medium term as capital stock may deteriorate beyond repair and may require complete replacement.

“Universities have a crucial role in producing the talent pool for the growing knowledge economy. This not only includes satisfying the skills needs of the workforce, but also seeding the creativity and innovation of the economy through an expanding world class research system. The Cassells Report provided an expertly researched and presented roadmap. We are calling on politicians across the Oireachtas to stop kicking the can down the road and to address the problem now. Failure to do so will damage students’ prospects and threaten the future competitiveness of the economy” Jim Miley concluded.

Irish-Universities-Association_Budget2019Submission_July2018.pdf (227 downloads)

 

Radio: Newstalk & Morning Ireland

Ends

More information:
Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
Lia.osullivan@iua.ie 01 6764948 085 7141414

20th June 2018 – Irish Universities providing sanctuary through education to Refugees #WorldRefugeeDay

Today is World Refugee Day. Held every year on June 20th it commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee. 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 people have had to cut their education short due to fleeing their home countries or have never had a chance to have an education. However, it can be very hard for those who are seeking sanctuary to access higher education. Asylum seekers have no recourse to public funds and often have fled without any money. Additional barriers to higher education include English being a second language and Universities not having the facilities and staff trained to understand the needs to those who are seeking sanctuary, many of whom have been though traumatic experiences. 

Universities of Sanctuary is an initiative of the City of Sanctuary movement which began in October 2005 in Sheffield. It celebrates the good practice of universities welcoming sanctuary seekers into their communities and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all. A University of Sanctuary should be a place where anyone can feel safe, welcome and able to pursue their right to education. 

“The Universities of Sanctuary initiative is a natural fit for Irish Universities as they seek to widen participation in Higher Education for students who face barriers to attending. Critically the key success factor in this initiative is the drive by university staff to enable education opportunities for students living in Direct Provision. Universities are using innovative options such as virtual learning environments in recognition of the challenges some of the students face in physically attending classes on campus. Our universities are committed to welcoming students from all over the world, especially those fleeing conflictSinead Lucey, Head of International Relations, Irish Universities Association

The Universities of Sanctuary initiative encourage Universities to:

  • Do everything possible to secure equal access to higher education for refugees
  • Reach out to and support refugees in their local communities who could benefit from University resources in a sustainable way.
  • Undertake activities to nurture a culture of welcome and an inclusive atmosphere within their institutions such as among staff and students.
Irish Universities of Sanctuary

Dublin City University was designated as Ireland’s first “University of Sanctuary”  in December 2016 in recognition of a range of initiatives demonstrating commitment to welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into the university community and to fostering a culture of inclusion for all. Read more 

University of Limerick was officially presented with the University of Sanctuary award on United Nations World Refugee Day June 20th 2017. The designation for UL was built on an existing history of engagement with refuges and asylum seekers in a number of programmes of education and research. Read more 

University College Cork joined DCU and UL as universities leading the way in Ireland by being awarded University of Sanctuary status by Places of Sanctuary Ireland in February 2018.  Read more 

University College Dublin  was awarded University of Sanctuary status in March 2018 in recognition of a range of initiatives welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into the university community. Read more

Seeking Designation

NUI Galway launched its University of Sanctuary Campaign in May 2018. The specific aim of the campaign at NUI Galway is to increase public awareness of the global refugee crisis and Traveller-specific issues across the University campus.  Read more

Trinity College Dublin is aiming  to join other Irish universities by becoming a University of Sanctuary. Such an achievement would be contingent on TCD identifying ways of supporting young asylum seekers and refugees, who have successfully come through Irish secondary schools, to access undergraduate education at Trinity. Read more

 

A university of sanctuary must follow three main principles across the board and at all levels:

Learn: Learning about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, in general and at a university. This encompasses any activity on training staff, teaching students or holding events to raise awareness on what it means to be seeking sanctuary.

Embed: taking positive action to embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within the institution and the wider community. This involves ensuring that a sustainable culture of welcome is established within the institution to bring about far reaching, tangible and long-lasting changes.

Share: sharing the university’s vision, achievements, what they have learned and good practice, with other universities, the local community, the media and others.

20 June 2018 IUA Media Release – Ireland leads International PhD Programme to research trauma experienced by Refugees

(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.” 

ends

More Information:

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

http://www.psychotraumanetwork.com/

https://www.iua.ie/irish-marie-curie-office/funding-calls/innovative-training-networks-itn/