IUA Press Release 19th May 2018 – Universities are buzzing about bee research as we celebrate World Bee Day May 20th

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.

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

More Information:

All-Ireland Pollinator Plan   

World Bee Day website

 

IUA Press Release 18th May – HEA Report shows University Students progressing well from first to second year

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”.

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For more information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications 01 6764948

27th April 2018: Universities take home 6 awards in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards

Universities take home 6 awards in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards

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

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.

Ends.

 

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.  

 

 

27th April 2018: Launching IUA report, Minister Mitchell O’Connor calls for a joined-up approach across higher education and government to overcome barriers to international mobility that exist for students

In the University of Limerick today (27th April 2pm) Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor will launch a report “Enhancing Mobility for Access Students Ireland” and online resource mobilitytookit.ie for higher education institutions in Ireland to widen student participation in international mobility opportunities, such as Erasmus +, for non-traditional students such as mature students, student with disabilities or from lower socio-economic groups.

The Report, which was produced by the Irish Universities Association, found that students who undertake mobility programmes significantly benefit from them, as they develop attractive graduate attributes such as linguistic skills, intercultural competencies and global citizenship. The skills developed are particularly beneficial to students from under-represented groups and their development leads to enhanced career opportunities, as well as significant personal development.

However many barriers to mobility exist and less than one in five higher education students in Ireland currently study abroad.  Financial concerns, separation from family, health issues, academic concerns and accommodation issues are among some of the challenges highlighted in the Report.

Commenting on the report the Minister stressed the importance of equity of access for all students who wish to participate in available international opportunities in study or internships abroad: “I see our role as educators and policy makers to give all our students the courage and encouragement that they need regardless of their abilities to pursue their dreams. To overcome the barriers to mobility that exist, a joined-up approach by all of the higher education actors is required. Access to higher education and all its benefits and opportunities should be available to individuals, independent of socio-economic disadvantage, gender, geographical location, disability or other circumstances”.

The Report calls for national targets to be introduced by the Irish Government for the mobility of non-traditional students together with reform in the areas of national data capture, funding, information, awareness and promotion.  Ireland’s national strategy on International Education (2016-2020)2 aspires to increase student mobility to above the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) target of 20% by 2020.

The Report highlights that successful reform will lead to increased demand for international opportunities, therefore national agencies and institutions must be adequately resourced to service such demand.

The institutional analysis in the Report uncovered highly effective study and internship abroad best practice at both the University of Limerick and the Limerick Institute of Technology. Best practice included a whole of institution approach to mobility, supporting mobility champions, effective support structures and impactful promotion and awareness campaigns.

Critically students are also encouraged to take ownership and play an active in the organisation of their mobility opportunity.

Jessica Gough, a former UL applied languages student has had many successful mobility experiences: “You need to have a positive attitude and know your own needs. I actively researched each placement, finding out who to contact in each country before I travelled and this helped me overcome the challenges of my disability”.

Institutional analysis also provided invaluable data for the recommendation section of the Report as well as excellent material for the mobility toolkit.

Sinéad Lucey, Head of International Education at the Irish Universities Association stated, “The online toolkit in particular is designed to help institutions overcome the challenges that exist for students to participate in mobility opportunities by providing useful resources such as guides, best practice examples and student/staff testimonials covering key areas in the mobility process”. 

The toolkit will be a key resource to staff in higher education institutions as they ramp up efforts to promote mobility to all their students.

Gerard Gallagher is Disability Advisor at Maynooth University.  As a student with a disability, Gerard didn’t think an Erasmus experience was an option for him but he’s now very passionate about ensuring the students he supports embrace this opportunity: “I believe that life experience and skills gained on Erasmus+ are transferable for success in education and employment and in the last number of years I’ve supported students with significant disabilities to study abroad in countries including, Germany, Austria and Tanzania”.

The EMASI project was delivered by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), working under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills (DES), with the support of the HEA, and was funded by the European Commission under Key Action 3: Support for Policy Reform.

Ends.

For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie   01 7996022   085 7141414

Sinead Lucey, Head of International Education, Irish Universities Association
sinead.lucey@iua.ie   01 6764948

April 17: IUA is recruiting a Director of Research & Innovation. Apply by May 4th.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is the representative organisation for the seven Irish Universities.

The IUA is the voice of the university sector and is committed to:

  • clearly and publicly articulating the importance and value of university education
  • acting as an advocate for the university system
  • providing effective liaison and dialogue with the State and its agencies
  • ensuring the system is resourced and prepared for the challenges of the future
  • developing sectoral policies and strategies
  • maximising the contribution of higher education in all its dimensions to society and the economy.

The organisation hosts important shared services in researcher mobility, widening participation, the development of engaged teaching and research and internationalisation.

The IUA invites applications for the position of Director of Research and Innovation (DRI).

Role Purpose

To advance university research and innovation through strategic policy coordination and development in support of key university research and innovation leaders. This also involves working with external stakeholders in government, funding agencies and the enterprise sector.

The Director of Research and Innovation has overall management responsibility for the IUA Research Office which has a significant role in relation to the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) and EURAXESS initiatives within the EU Framework Programmes for Research. The Director works closely with the Vice Presidents  & Deans of Research (VPDoR) of our member universities and leads the work programme of the VPDoR Group within the IUA.

Key Responsibilities

Reporting to the Director General of the IUA, the Director of Research & Innovation will be responsible for:

  • Overall management of the research policy function within IUA
  • Leading the development of key policy initiatives in support of the research and innovation activities of member universities
  • Overseeing delivery of key projects including MSCA and EURAXESS
  • Close collaboration on policy development and relationship management with key stakeholders including Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council, Higher Education Authority, IBEC and key government departments (notably DES and DBEI).
  • Representing the university sector in relation to all matters of research with Oireachtas members, media, industry and other relevant groups
  • Development and implementation of key advocacy initiatives in relation to research and innovation

Essential Attributes

We are seeking an individual who has the capacity to take a leadership role in research and innovation policy for the university sector. The most critical qualities for this role are:

  • A strong academic background with a track record of significant professional achievement
  • In-depth familiarity with, and experience of, research and innovation policy analysis and formulation and the interface between research and innovation policy and the wider sphere of industrial and economic policy
  • Strong knowledge of the research landscape nationally and internationally having particular regard to the higher education dimension
  • Experience of strategic planning in research policy and a capacity to advance sectoral change through positive advocacy
  • Strong leadership, communications, negotiating and influencing skills with the credibility to deal effectively with senior executives and decision-makers
  • Drive, tenacity and proven capacity for implementation and the delivery of agreed metrics
  • Team player capable of working constructively within IUA and the wider RD&I network
  • Numerate and technically literate

Key Standing Committees and Groups

  • IUA Vice Presidents and Directors of Research Group
  • KTI Stakeholder Forum
  • DES – Higher Education Research Group
  • High Level Group on Horizon 2020
  • SFI, IRC and other key research funders
  • IBEC RD&I Committee
  • Other groups in accordance with the evolving work programme

Contract Details

This is an exciting opportunity to make a distinctive contribution to an area of strategic importance to the higher education sector. The position is offered on a full-time basis on a four-year fixed term contract, and subject to a period of probation and meeting on-going performance requirements. A competitive salary commensurate with experience will be offered.

A secondment arrangement for existing public-sector employees may be possible, subject to concluding an appropriate agreement between the IUA and the candidate’s current employer.

Director-of-Research-and-Innovation_RoleSpec.pdf (36 downloads)

Applications

Please forward a detailed CV and cover letter, demonstrating the competencies and experience listed above, by post or email by 4th May 2018 to:

Jennifer Cleary, HR Manager, IUA, 48 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

E-mail:  jennifer.cleary@iua.ie    Tel: (01) 676 4948

Applications submitted by or through third parties, including recruitment agencies, will be rejected.

The IUA is an equal opportunities employer

IUA Statement 22 March 2018: IUA welcomes Government announcement of €29.6m investment by the Irish Research Council in frontier research

The Irish Universities Association welcomes today’s announcement by Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. 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.

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.”

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.

Click here for full Irish Research Council announcement

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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  

IUA Press Release 15 march 2018: Scholarship Opportunity for Irish University Students to attend Summer School at University in China and intern at a Chinese company in summer 2018

Irish Universities Association launches 10 scholarships of €1000 available to Irish Students for summer school/internship in Beijing, China in 2018. Applications open on www.iua.ie/international on Friday 30th March.

Over 570 Irish students studied in China in 2016 across a number of disciplines and in various cities. To further strengthen the links between our countries, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) have developed a study and internship summer program in China for Irish students.  

Ms Xiao Lei, CEAIE with Táiniste Simon Coveney and IUA’s Sinead Lucey

The scholarship and summer school was launched by IUA International Education Manager, Sinéad Lucey, at the Irish Embassy in China on March 15th 2018 in the presence of Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

A key strategic objective of the IUA-CEAIE partnership is to increase the mobility of Chinese and Irish students to study in Ireland and in China.  The IUA will offer a €1,000 scholarship to 10 successful applicants of Irish Universities to help cover travel expenses to and from China. Applicants must be 18 years or over and the program and scholarship is open to applicants from all disciplines. The pilot summer internship program will be hosted at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing for summer 2018. Applications for the scholarship will open on Friday 30th March and will close on Friday 27th April 2018. The application form will be available to download from www.iua.ie/international .

Developing opportunities for Irish students to study or intern in China is a key strategic priority for Irish universities. IUA’s partnership with CEAIE to progress these opportunities for Irish students is evidence of the Irish Universities’ commitment to realise this objective.

Speaking at the launch Sinéad Lucey, Head of International Education at the IUA said, “This partnership with CEAIE is of vital importance to Irish universities in achieving their strategic objectives. The IUA welcomes the joint study internship summer school as an important step to increase the number of Irish students with direct experience of studying and working in China, and to further develop Ireland’s relationship with China and its higher education community. This is the first Irish University sectoral scholarship for a summer school in China and it is our ambition to fund over 500 students in the coming years.”

Katie Finlay a law student in UCC who undertook a summer school at ECUPL in Shanghai reflects on her learning experience:   

I would recommend any student to have the experience of a lifetime and enrol in the ECCUPL law summer school. The summer school program consisted of lectures in the morning on various aspects of Chinese Law and History. The University brought us to visit many of Shanghai’s most famous tourist attractions and also brought us on a day trip to visit the top law firm in Shanghai. I learned so much during my stay at ECUPL and made friends with other law students from countries from all around the world. My time in Shanghai at ECUPL was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my time studying law.”

This scholarship is the product of a partnership agreement signed in 2017, between the Irish Universities Association and China Education Association for International Exchange to further develop co-operation between the higher education systems in China and in Ireland.

IUA’s Sinéad Lucey “We hope that this new summer program will act as a stepping stone for more Irish students to study in China and will go from strength to strength. Providing a study abroad or traineeship opportunity in China for Irish students enables students to develop 21st century global skills that are attractive to employers and also benefit society”.  

 Ends.

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 to Editors:

Program description and benefits to Irish Students and Program summary

Can be found on https://www.iua.ie/international/introduction/

DES Press Release 13 March 2018: Minister Bruton Announces Extra Places on Teacher Training Courses

Post primary undergraduate and postgraduate courses expanded for Targeted Subject areas of STEM, Irish and Foreign Languages

The Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. today announced, following consultation with the Irish Universities Association, an expansion of the number of places on post primary teacher education courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Minister also announced that there will be additional places provided in the priority areas of STEM, Irish and Foreign Languages.

Teachers play a central role in achieving the Government’s ambition to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. Significant additional investment has been made in the provision of additional teachers in recent years and we are now recruiting more new teachers than at any other point in the history of the state. Over 5,000 additional teachers have been successfully recruited in the last two years.

However, while the numbers graduating from post primary teacher education courses – both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, have remained broadly constant over the past number of years, the number of students entering post primary is increasing and will continue to do so until 2025. The Government is responding to this growth by increasing the number of places on post primary teacher education programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Within the context of the overall ambition to become the best in Europe, the Government has set out very ambitious strategies in STEM, foreign languages and digital. Each of these strategies is committed to taking action to address the supply of teachers in these areas. We are now providing additional places to ensure the system can respond more readily to national priorities and the needs of schools.

The new measures are as the follows:

  • The Universities will increase the capacity on undergraduate initial teacher education programmes by an estimated 280 places in 2018.
  • This includes an increase in the priority areas of STEM, Irish and foreign languages of more than 100 places, an increase of over 40% on 2017 in these areas.
  • At postgraduate level, the Universities will increase the capacity on PME programmes by more than 100 places in the priority areas of STEM, Irish and foreign languages.
  • The universities and Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) have extended the closing date to Friday 13 April for applications for entry to PME programmes for Irish and the targeted STEM and foreign language subjects (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, French, German, Spanish and Italian).

Announcing these new measures, Minister Bruton said. “The quality of our teachers and school leaders is the number one factor which will influence the outcome for the child and we are very lucky in Ireland to have high quality teachers.

“Some concerns have been raised recently around teacher supply issues. I have previously announced some measures to support schools in managing these issues, including expanding the number of days a teacher can work while on a career break. Today, I am taking further action by expanding the number of places on teacher education programmes with a heavy emphasis on certain subject areas at post primary level, to ensure that schools can get the right mix of subject teachers.

“Teaching is a fantastic profession for any young person considering their options, with a starting salary for a teacher straight out of college of nearly €36,000, increasing to €37,600 from October 2020. I’ve also recently announced an additional 3,000 leadership posts, meaning 1 in 3 teachers in our schools will now be in a leadership position.

“I welcome this year’s provisional CAO figures which show an 8% increase in those applying to study primary education and 4% in secondary education. I would like to take this opportunity to remind final year leaving certificate students who may still be considering a career in teaching that that they can use the CAO “change of mind” facility up to 1st July 2018.”

 

Notes to Editors

Minister Bruton has already taken a number of measures to alleviate pressures in this area.

  • The restriction on the number of days a teacher can work while on career break has been temporarily lifted
  • Employers were reminded that “in considering applications for career breaks, the welfare and educational needs of the pupils shall take precedence over all other considerations and accordingly, must take account of the availability of appropriate qualified replacement teachers”.
  • The number of students admitted to St, Angela’s, Sligo, in the current year, to study the home economics programme has been increased.
  • As part of the policy on Gaeltacht education, the Minister has also made funding available for the provision of two additional posts tor the existing Irish medium post primary initial teacher education programme in NUIG and is increasing from 2018/19 the number of places available on the programme.
  • All teachers retiring in 2017 were informed that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days or to supervise the State examinations, they must maintain their registrations with the Teaching Council.

Press Release 16th Feb – University capital building fund must be matched by human capital investment #ProjectIreland2040

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 expansion in research funding is also welcome and the IUA looks forward to working with the government and other partners to agree the most effective use of those extra funds.

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, provided it is 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 with up to 40,000 extra students per year by 2030.

While the overall funding package is welcome, 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.

A HEA report 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.

Ends.

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 

 

Additional Notes:

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”.

Statement 19th Jan 2018: IUA welcomes HEA report showing high levels of employability among university graduates

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) welcomes the publication of the HEA’s report “What Do Graduates Do? – The Class of 2016”. This report, which is an analysis of the first destinations of the 2016 class of university graduates, shows clearly the high levels of employability among Irish university graduates.

Following on the trend of the last ten years, throughout the entire economic crisis, university graduates across all fields of study have been shown to be significantly less likely to be unemployed than the general population. This is testament to the quality of Irish university graduates, as well as to the quality of education and research supports provided by academic and other staff across the university sector. This is in the face of the ongoing structural deficits in the funding of Irish universities, leading to one of the worst staff:student ratios in the OECD.

The Irish universities are committed to ensuring a high quality learning experience for their students, helping them develop their knowledge, skills and competences in their chosen fields of study and research, and also across a range of important generic skills which will be crucial in their future professional lives. The ongoing evaluations of academic programmes and departments across all universities, bringing in relevant international expertise and often in collaboration with enterprise partners, ensure that university study programmes remain relevant and internationally competitive.

The universities are also pleased to note the significant increase in graduate numbers gaining employment in Ireland, and who are now contributing significantly to the economic recovery of recent years.

Jim Miley, Director General of IUA said: “This HEA report is a testament to the enduring quality of Irish university graduates, and to the added value which universities bring to the country. It also proves once again the sustainable and rapid returns which investment in Irish higher education brings, both for individuals and the State. This report should encourage the Government in its stated ambition to invest substantial additional funds in Irish universities over the coming years, and to address the underlying structural funding deficit in the higher education sector. This is all the more important, given the known increase in higher level student numbers by 30% between now and 2030, and the positive impacts these future graduates will have on our country”.

Ends.

 

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