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.

Seven universities launch joint Charter to underpin the future of Irish university education 17.09.18

Commitment to six-point plan to achieve a sustainable, competitive university system  for Ireland’s future talent.

Ireland’s seven universities have today (September 17th, 2018) committed to a Charter to grow and develop the university education system for this and future generations of students. Ireland’s Future Talent – A Charter for Irish Universities commits to transform capability and performance across a range of key criteria to deliver a sustainable, competitive university system for Ireland’s foreseeable needs.

Professor Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC and Chair of the Irish Universities Association said:

“Ireland has long extoled the virtue of our indigenous talent, nurtured by our education system. However, a decade of under-investment by the State, the demographic bulge and a dynamic, competitive international education environment forces us all to confront stark realities. It is incumbent on the State, on universities and on society to implement initiatives to develop and fully realise our national talent. The time for talking is over. The time for change has come.”             

“The importance of the Charter is that it underpins a commitment to substantial change. It calls out the challenges. It identifies solutions. It puts meat on the bones of the Government’s ambition. As a society, we must commit to and enable this change. This Charter captures our commitment and it is now incumbent on the Government to meet the challenge,” he concluded.   

IUA Charter 2018 CoverThe Charter identifies six central objectives and commits to delivering a fit for purpose university system for the evolving demands of society. Its target is to enable the Irish education system to become the best in Europe by 2026, thereby achieving the Government’s ambition for the national education sector.

The development of the Charter, the first of its kind in third level education history, has been engineered by the Irish Universities Association and was launched at an event in Dublin today.

Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said: “Universities worldwide are transforming and the Charter to which we have committed today is designed to move Irish universities to the forefront of that change by jointly committing to a range of measures that better support students, staff and research and that will deliver in the national interest. This is a mission-critical initiative for the combined universities. The political community now needs to step up to the challenge and match the ambition and commitment demonstrated by the universities.”

He added: “We require a transformation of how university education is controlled including freeing universities from the grinding levers of State to allow them innovate and grow. This requires more flexible structures combined with strong governance and accountability.”

“Every politician is aware of the major funding deficit for third level, yet no progress has been made on re-vamping the overall structure, despite clear options proposed by the Government-appointed expert group. Too many are hiding behind the fig leaf of the option they don’t like.  Meanwhile, the scale of funding deficit continues to grow as more and more students enter our universities. We share the government’s ambition for education but that ambition needs to be matched with a commitment to provide the structures and funding required to deliver it. It’s time to get real on this,” he concluded.              

The Charter sets out six core commitments by universities, which will work in partnership with government and other stakeholders, to fully deliver.

In summary they are:

  1. Build on the quality of the student experience in a digital age.

The student population in Irish universities will surge by 25,000 by 2030, coinciding with rapid advances in digital learning and a need to expand lifelong learning opportunities. To meet these challenges, universities commit to:

  • Developing a national programme in digital learning in partnership with government;
  • Increasing lifelong learning for people aged 25 to 64 from the current 6.5% to the EU average of 10.7% by 2030;
  • Increasing our international reach by increasing international student numbers to 15% of the overall student population and enabling 20% of students to undertake study or placement abroad by 2025.

This requires investment to refurbish decaying infrastructure, build capacity and provide the systems needed for an increasingly digital and flexible learning environment.

  1. Increase the scale, scope and impact of investment in research and innovation.

While sustained public investment in R&D continued through the recession, Ireland still lags behind the OECD average of 2.4% of GDP at just 1.2%. To build capacity for world-class research, universities commit to:

  • Expanding engagement between universities and industry on knowledge transfer and innovation;
  • Increasing the output of PhD graduates by at least 30% over the next 10 years.

Growing R&D investment to at least 2% of GPD will require an investment of €680 million per annum. Securing additional EU funds from the Horizon Europe EU Research Programme should be a core Government priority.

  1. Expand student access and increase engagement with communities and industry.

The Disability Access Route to Education programme has resulted in a 70% increase in new entrants with disabilities, while the Higher Education Access Route programme has grown the numbers from priority socio-economic target groups by 31%. Universities will further grow these numbers, address progression rates and build on the success of Campus Engage. Universities commit to:

  • Increasing access numbers by a further 30% by 2025;
  • Providing better opportunities for students to work with civoc society organisations through accredited learning, growth in engaged research and promotion of studentvolunteer.ie;
  • Strengthening and deepening industry links to align with workforce demands and build more partnerships.
  1. Support a programme of staff development and increased equality and diversity.

University staff numbers and pay scales are controlled by central government, which limits universities’ capacity to respond flexibly to rapidly changing needs. All seven Irish universities have now been awarded Athena Swan Bronze status, a key indicator of progress on equality and diversity. To build on this, universities commit to:

  • Implementing a professional development framework for university staff;
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Gender Equality Taskforce on Higher Education to advance diversity, inclusion and equality.
  • Securing agreement on a Researcher Career Development and Employment Framework to provide a secure basis for researchers to develop a career path.

To allow delivery of these commitments, the rigid and centralised control on university staffing should be changed to allow greater flexibility for each university to develop bespoke HR plans.

  1. Create more flexible and accountable structures.

International evidence points to the fact that the most successful universities are those with

the greatest levels of independence coupled with strong governance and accountability. Universities are committed to:

  • Working with government on legislative reform to deliver a more flexible operating structure, with a better capacity to respond to the needs of the economy and society in general.
  • Improving accountability through better governance structures, in accordance with best international practice.

To deliver a more effective and efficient university system we need the removal of restrictive measures in relation to employment, in line with the principles set out in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030;

  1. Secure the investment and resources to achieve our ambitions.

While the Government has commenced reversing the funding decline, long-awaited policy decisions on revamping the overall structure of funding have been delayed. A definitive decision on a sustainable funding model for higher education is urgently required to prevent risks to our economic competitiveness. A more sustainable university system can be delivered by:

  • Increasing State investment in Higher Education in each of the next three budgets by €150m, €180m and €230m respectively.
  • A more detailed plan for the capital investment in higher education, referenced in Project Ireland 2040, is required and should include a dedicated refurbishment programme.

Ends

For media queries, please contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association
lia.osullivan@iua.ie    01 6764948 / 085 714 1414

 

 

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 (40 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 (175 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/

6 June 2018 Media Release: IUA Statement in response to fall of Irish Universities in QS World University Rankings 2019

There has been an alarming fall in global rankings of Irish universities, a measure of our international reputation. From having 2 universities in the top 100, Ireland now has none in contrast to similar sized countries in Europe. Despite the ambition of having the best education system in the EU by 2026, there has been a decade of under-investment. The public is now seeing the impact of the funding cuts over the years – our universities are losing out to our competitors in nearby countries. That means our students are losing out, as is the country as fewer international students will come and industry will invest elsewhere. This is all happening despite our universities growing student numbers by a third.

Responding to the QS World University Rankings 2019, Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said:

Irish universities are the engines of creativity and the producers of Ireland’s future top talent. The fall in rankings is a warning light to government that the quality talent pipeline will be jeopardised unless the funding deficit is addressed. It’s time to stop delaying a decision on a proper funding model for Irish third-level education. The government know what needs to be done and should now bite the bullet.”

There are serious concerns that a continued failure to address the third-level funding crisis will directly damage the Irish economy in future years. In its December 2017 report, the National Competitiveness Council which advises the Taoiseach and his government stated bluntly that: “It is time to stop long-fingering a decision to close the funding gap in the higher education sector which poses a significant threat to our competitiveness rankings and FDI.”

The latest QS rankings clearly highlight the dangers of continued inaction on our economic competitiveness.

Ends.

https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2019

Media Coverage of this statement:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/irish-universities-tumble-down-latest-set-of-world-rankings-1.3521708

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/irish-universities-being-left-in-the-slipstream-of-our-competitors-1.3521616

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/cash-crisis-irish-universities-fall-further-down-the-world-rankings-list-36985445.html 

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/irish-universities-fail-to-make-worlds-top-100-in-latest-rankings-847337.html 

http://www.thejournal.ie/irish-universities-world-rankings-4056883-Jun2018/