RIAN.ie – Putting Irish Research on the Map

RIAN.ie – Ireland’s new Research Publications Portal was launched today by Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills Mary Coughlan T.D. The launch is the highlight of Ireland’s contribution to ‘International Open Access Week’.  Open access is an international movement to increase the global knowledge base.  Research knows no borders and it is critical for Irish research to be easily accessible and feature prominently on the global research landscape. RIAN will significantly enhance the profile of Irish research and the innovation system by making our research findings widely available to the global research community.

Speaking at the launch the Tánaiste said, ““Growth through innovation and research is at the heart of our ‘smart economy’ strategy. Our research output is a key building block in achieving its aims. Ireland already has an above EU-15 average rate of scientific citations and publications and this is growing rapidly. RIAN.ie will help grow it faster.”

RIAN.ie is a web-based portal that will harvest and display the content of the repositories of the seven universities and the DIT. It is among the first wave of national open access portals in the world, placing Ireland at the forefront of the movement. The portal will demonstrate the impact of research to potential investors and funders, who recognise the value of wider research dissemination.

The portal went live in July and has received 540,000 visits to the site accessing the 12,343 items in RIAN from all participating institutions. Even at this early stage, Item views have grown steadily from 27,940 in July to 108,484 in September and page views have grown by 46% to 475,676.

This is important because the value of a research paper or journal article is often measured by its ‘impact factor’, i.e. how often it is cited by the worldwide community of researchers. Research into citation impact has demonstrated that authors whose papers are made Open Access are cited significantly more than authors whose articles are available only to subscribers. RIAN will significantly increase the visibility and impact of Irish research and is a resource that will grow over time as our research efforts expand.

RIAN.ie is the result of a HEA funded Strategic Innovation Fund project which began in 2007 and was completed on time and within budget this year. The project has operated under the auspices of the IUA and its Librarian’s Group which has driven the project to its successful completion.  IUA Chair and President of NUI Maynooth, Professor Tom Collins, commended the project “Open Access to the research output of the seven universities and DIT is one of the most exciting collaborative projects across the Irish university sector. It offers all countries – rich and poor – free access to information which has tremendous potential to aid both national and international development”.

The Taoiseach’s Innovation Taskforce recommended that Ireland develop an “innovation ecosystem” where a synergistic combination of public and private sector efforts create an environment that promotes the growth of knowledge and its translation into new ideas and new businesses. Rian is an important building block of the innovation ecosystem and will help put the “innovation island” on the map as a beacon for Irish research.

Ends.

For more information contact:
Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association, Lia.osullivan@iua.ie
01 6764948     085 7141414

 

Additional Notes:

  • ‘Rian’ is the Irish for pathway
  • Open access to publications is complementary to the drive to commercialise outcomes from Irish research. As Ireland’s research output has grown there has also been a significant increase in university commercialisation activity in terms of industrial collaborations, patents, licences and spinouts.

“The project provides an international window on Irish Research output and NUI Galway is delighted to be part of this.”
Dr James J. Browne, Uachtarán – President, National University of Ireland, Galway.

“The objective of RIAN is to make knowledge and research publications available to the widest possible audience. Already the level of interest, demonstrated by the number of publications downloaded, is very significant and no doubt will continue to grow with awareness of this wonderful resource.”
Professor Brian Norton, President, DIT.

“Increasing access to Irish published research is in the national interest; it will enhance thestrategic impact of research publications and help to develop a knowledge society.”
Professor Brian MacCraith, President, Dublin City University

“The mission of the University includes knowledge generation and knowledge transfer. Open access is critical to the delivery of both. RIAN will help us to showcase the great achievements of the Irish research community and to increase the worldwide impact of the knowledge we generate.”

Dr John Hegarty, Provost, Trinity College Dublin.

“The National Research Portal will increase the international profile of individual researchers and of Irish universities and will thereby enhance the national research endeavour”.
Professor Don Barry, President, University of Limerick.

UCD welcomes the development of global access to Irish university research outputs which will contribute to the social, economic and cultural objectives of a knowledge society.
Dr Hugh Brady, President, UCD

RIAN offers the world a single “shop-window” to the creativity of the entire Irish university system. It is an important sectoral contribution to enhancing Ireland’s national brand as “The Innovation Island”.
Dr Michael Murphy, President, University College Cork.

IUA Council endorses Bonus Points for Maths Scheme

Universities Complement Project Maths with Bonus Points Initiative

The Council of the Irish Universities Association today decided to endorse a scheme of bonus points for leaving certificate higher maths students. Speaking on behalf of the Council, IUA Chief Executive Ned Costello said: “the Council has endorsed the bonus points initiative as a complementary measure to Project Maths and with a specific focus on encouraging a greater uptake of higher level maths in the leaving certificate. We are particularly anxious to address the problem of students dropping down from the higher level maths course as the leaving certificate approaches”, he said.

The scheme which the Council has endorsed is simple and transparent, involving a bonus of 25 points for students who score grade D3 or above in higher level mathematics. The effect of the bonus is shown in the table below. While the bonus still rewards high attainers, it is particularly attractive to those students who are capable of strong results at ordinary level, but who are concerned about the extra demands of the honours course. The scheme is to be introduced for a four year pilot period commencing leaving certificate 2012 and will be reviewed in 2014.

The Universities stressed the importance of the award of bonus points being backed up by full delivery on the recommendations of the Project Maths Implementation Support Group. “Ultimately, the necessary step change in maths attainment will only come about through a combination of curriculum reform, improved teacher competence and appropriate incentives to students. There is a strong onus on government to ensure that the full package is delivered”, Costello said.

 

Table

% Range LC Grade Points for HL Maths, including 25 bonus points Existing points for  HL subjects inc maths Points for Ordinary Level subjects
90 – 100 A1 125 100 60
85 – 89.99 A2 115 90 50
80 – 84.99 B1 110 85 45
75 – 79.99 B2 105 80 40
70 – 74.99 B3 100 75 35
65 – 69.99 C1 95 70 30
60 – 64.99 C2 90 65 25
55 – 59.99 C3 85 60 20
50 – 54.99 D1 80 55 15
45 – 49.99 D2 75 50 10
40 – 44.99 D3 70 45 5
25 – 39.99 E 0 0 0
10 – 24.99 F 0 0 0
0 – 9.99 NG 0 0 0

 

See Scheme Details.

 

Ends.
For more information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, IUA Communications Manager, 01 6764948

IUA Welcomes PRTLI 5 Announcement

The IUA welcomes the announcement of €358m funding for research through the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). Speaking today Ned Costello (CEO) stated that “in the midst of a major recession this is an investment to maintain the future competitiveness of Ireland. It will build on the €866m already invested over the past 10 years that has already transformed the research landscape in Ireland”. This public investment was only possible through the leveraging of national and international finance from a variety of sources, and given the recent series of cutbacks in R&D investment, is a critical first step in the government’s renewed drive to support and promote the knowledge economy.

In the short term the investment will have clear practical benefits to the economy through the creation of new jobs and will stimulate activity in the construction sector with over €259m for research infrastructure. The funded programmes will result in direct collaborations between academia and high tech industry across a wide range of sectors.

The funding will support new research in areas of national priority including how renewable energy sources can be better integrated into the national electricity grid and eco-innovation research that brings together a wide range of research bodies and companies. There are national shared facilities bringing together expertise across the country in, for example, marine & environmental technologies. Also funded is a national audio visual repository that will use state of the art technology to preserve our cultural heritage through storing film and folklore.

This investment will support the national Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation as a major boost to graduate education. The EU and US recognise the need for highly skilled and creative graduates to drive the knowledge economy. The structured PhD programmes funded under PRTLI 5 will focus on areas of national importance including innovation, economics, nanoscience, nanotechnology, medicine and telecommunications.

 

Ends.
For more information contact: Dr Conor O’Carroll, IUA Director of Research, 01 6764948

Brian MacCraith is Inaugurated as President of DCU

Newly inaugurated DCU President Brian MacCraith (centre)

DCU Press Release

Vision based on transformation, enterprise, translation and engagement Enterprise Advisory Board, Early Stage Seed Fund, Nobel Laureate lecture series announced

“Shrinking budgets and increased demands threaten quality of education – we must be agile, distinctive and relevant, and we must find diversified income”

Dublin City University will be a modern, dynamic ‘University of Enterprise’ delivering significant value to the nation and graduating students who can lead the next successful era in Ireland’s history according to Prof. Brian MacCraith the new President of DCU in his inaugural speech today (Tuesday 13 July 2010).

“We are not, and should not seek to be, a conventional, traditional university. Our mission derives from our past record, our evolved values and the original rationale for DCU’s establishment which is to play a pivotal role in accelerating economic activity and delivering Ireland’s future well-being, especially in our region.”

Prof. MacCraith, who is DCU’s third president since its foundation as NIHE Dublin in 1980 was addressing an audience of 1,200 staff, students, donors, industry, government and regional representatives in the Mahony Hall at The Helix on the DCU campus.

In remarks addressed directly to his audience as parents, Prof. MacCraith said “DCU is a university that is inclusive and committed to supporting our students, your children, along their journey of learning and personal development.  Let me assure you that DCU will broaden their horizons and develop strong positive values in an environment where they can realise their potential and not only survive but prosper”.

In his script Prof. MacCraith outlined a vision for the future of DCU as a distinctive and innovative force in Higher Education based on four principles;

  • enabling the transformative impact that a university education can have on people and  on the economic and social environment in which they live,
  • creating an environment that stimulates and rewards Entrepreneurship & Innovation at all levels thus enabling an enterprising mindset in graduates,
  • a commitment to the successful translation of research results into real societal benefits with a priority on issues of societal concern –  health, the environment, and energy needs,
  • a commitment to continual  engagement with enterprise, with the region that it serves, the community that it lives in and global forces of change.

As tangible initiatives towards delivering on those principles, Prof. MacCraith announced the establishment of;

  • the DCU Enterprise Advisory Board with global and national input to provide advice on

enterprise needs from education. Prof. MacCraith also announced that Dr Craig Barrett will join that board.

  • the DCU Nobel Laureate Lecture Series, an annual event whereby Nobel Laureate from

one of the 6 prize areas (Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Economics and Peace) will come to DCU to deliver a public lecture.

  • an early-stage Accelerator seed venture fund of €1million to help fund early stage technology start-up companies concept to product. The fund will be managed by the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship which is based in CityWest.
  • a new BSc programme in Aviation Management with Pilot Studies that reflects the growing engagement with Dublin airport and aviation sector interests there. It will admit its first intake of students this autumn.

Prof. MacCraith warned however of the challenges and difficulties faced by the Higher Education sector; “The mission of Higher Education has never been more important to this country but shrinking budgets, coupled with increasing student numbers and the anticipated scale of future demand are placing unsustainable pressures on Universities. As a result the quality of the education that we can provide is under severe threat.”

The university sector he noted will need to be agile and responsive at a number of levels “It is clear given the critical state of the nation’s finances, that our sources of income will require diversification beyond a simple reliance on exchequer funding. We must also recognise the need to continually work hard at being distinctive and ahead of the curve to hold our place in the global market. Our graduates will have to compete both in terms of skills requirements and in having an international dimension to their capability. We will need to provide more flexible teaching and learning techniques to enable students in that context and continually shape the currency and relevance of the university experience.

Concluding his address, Prof. MacCraith addressed the DCU community “I am humbled by the privilege of leading this institution about which I am passionate. I am both immensely grateful for the legacy of my predecessors and inspired by the challenges ahead of me. I am equally very confident that, with the wonderful DCU community behind me, we will not only overcome those challenges but continue to excel in those areas that are at the core of this institution: teaching & learning, research and innovation and have a transformative impact on this region and this country in the decade ahead.”

For more information contact: eileen.colgan@dcu.ie

Report sets out a range of measures to strengthen mathematics – Department of Education and Skills Media Release

Minister for Eduction and Skills, Mary Coughlan T.D. with the Project Maths Implementation Support Group (including Lewis Purser, IUA Director of Academic Affairs - 2nd from right)

Mary Coughlan TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, today welcomed the report of the Project Maths Implementation Support Group – an industry/education partnership set up to examine how best stakeholders from business, second level and higher education can work together to achieve the objectives of Project Maths. Project Maths is a programme of reform in second level schools designed to teach mathematics in a way that promotes enhanced skills and real understanding, where students can appreciate the relevance of what they are learning and its application to everyday life, and how mathematics can be used to solve problems.

Project Maths is already being implemented in 24 project schools and will begin in all second level schools in September. Some €5m is being invested in professional development of teachers this year to support the initiative, and this will continue on a rolling basis to at least 2013.  This is the biggest investment in curriculum reform in a subject ever made by the State. The initiative has been widely welcomed in the business sector and by bodies such as Forfás, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, and the Innovation Task Force.

The Project Maths Implementation Support Group was chaired by Mr Frank Turpin, former Education Manager in INTEL Ireland, and nominee of the Irish Business and Employer’s Confederation on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

The key recommendations in the report are set out below.

  • The rollout of Project Maths to all schools from September 2010 should proceed with optimum speed as planned, supported by comprehensive planning and the necessary resources.
  • All schools should be required to provide a minimum of one mathematics class every school day for all students.
  • The message of Project Maths should be promoted clearly to all stakeholders through various media. Awards for excellence in mathematics, industry volunteers to support teachers/students, a mentoring scheme for high achievers, a Maths Champions Programme, the development of resources and other supports to provide authentic real life mathematics examples in support of the curriculum, and comprehensive careers information on mathematics are also recommended.  
  • The Department of Education and Science should work towards the achievement by 2018 of an objective that all students should be taught mathematics solely by teachers who hold a mathematics qualification, and post graduate courses should be provided on a scale and level commensurate with this objective, enabling the estimated 2000 teachers who do not hold such a qualification to upgrade their skills.

The group reached no consensus on bonus points. However it recommended that if bonus points are to be introduced they should be designed to compensate for the perceived additional workload associated with higher level mathematics and particularly incentivise the 20% of pupils who currently drop down from higher to ordinary level late in senior cycle, who might be likely to score a Grade C at higher level.  The possibility of making mathematics a mandatory subject for CAO purposes should also be explored in discussion with higher education institutions.

The report also recommends that higher education institutions should offer a second chance examination in the autumn targeted at the small number of students who have taken higher level Mathematics but have failed to reach minimum matriculation requirements. This safety net would encourage more students to sit Leaving Certificate Mathematics at higher level.

Speaking at the presentation of the Report, the Chairperson of the Group, Mr Frank Turpin, formerly of INTEL said:-

“Project Maths is one of the most important and exciting curriculum interventions ever in Post Primary Education in Ireland. I would like to thank Minister Coughlan and her predecessor Minister O’Keeffe for their unstinting support of this essential change in a time of resource constraint. I would also commend my colleagueson the Implementation Support Group whose enthusiasm and commitment further underlines the importance all stakeholders place in Project Maths. The successful implementation of Project Maths is nothing less than key to Ireland’s goal of success as a Smart Economy.”

Welcoming the report, the Tánaiste said:

“A high level of mathematical achievement is vital for Ireland’s future competitiveness. Maths is an essential skill for disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and finance, but it is also an essential skill for life. The ability to think rationally, analyse and solve problems, and process data clearly and accurately is assuming increasing importance as Ireland moves up the value chain in employment in the knowledge society. I am very pleased to see this partnership between the second level and higher education sectors and industry promoting and adding value to Project Maths.”

Ends

For more information contact :

Lewis Purser, IUA Director of Academic Affairs

Telephone: (+353 1) 6764948

 

Ireland’s New National Portal for Open Access Research Goes live

Formal launch October 20th 2010 – Convention Centre Dublin.

Ireland’s new national portal for Irish ‘Open Access’ published research goes live today.
RIAN – http://www.rian.ie will act as a single point of access to [open access] national research output, and contains content harvested from the institutional repositories of the seven Irish Universities and Dublin Institute of Technology. RIAN will significantly increase the visibility and impact of Irish research and will expand to harvest content from other Irish Open Access providers as the service develops.

A national network of institutional repositories will increase the exposure of national research output, and allows services, such as enhanced searching, and statistics generation, to be developed using economies of scale. RIAN will demonstrate the impact of research to potential funders, who recognise the value of wider research dissemination.

The Irish Government has identified growth in research as critical to its future as a knowledge economy. Raising the research profile is a key strategy in the Universities’ strategic plans, and the ability to showcase research output and identify institutional research strengths is extremely important in attracting new funding and high quality staff.

The development of RIAN was managed by the Irish Universities Association Librarians’ Group and is supported by the Association. This three year project was equally funded by the Universities and the Irish Government’s Strategic Innovation Fund which is administered by the Higher Education Authority.

Benefits of RIAN to Irish authors:
* Broadens worldwide access to material
* Increases citations for research material
* Makes easier access to material via search engines such as Google, Google Scholar and Yahoo
* Raises profile of Irish researchers internationally

Benefits to Irish institutions include:
* Provides a showcase of the institution’s research output
* Raises the profile of the institution’s research internationally through broader access and citations
* Increases potential for collaboration and synthesis between Irish and international researchers

Support for the Initiative from the heads of the 7 Irish universities:

“UCD welcomes the development of global access to Irish university research outputs which will contribute to the social, economic and cultural objectives of a knowledge society.”
Dr. Hugh Brady, President UCD

“It is in the national interest to extend access to Irish research output at institutional and sectoral level so as to maximise the long-term strategic impact and thereby help develop a knowledge society.”
Professor Ferdinand Von Prondzynski, President, DCU

“The national research portal will increase the international profile of individual researchers and of Irish Universities and will thereby enhance the national research endeavour”.
Professor Don Barry, President, University of Limerick.

“Research at NUI Maynooth has achieved world-class standing in many areas. This initiative will provide a world-wide gateway to that research and build on our own institutional repository for publications.”
Professor John Hughes, President, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

“University College Cork’s institutional repository has the potential to transform the dissemination of our scholarly output and will be the point of access for these resources for future generations.”
Dr. Michael Murphy, President, University College Cork.

 “The project provides an international window on Irish Research output and NUI Galway is delighted to be part of this.”
Dr James J. Browne, Uachtarán – President, National University of Ireland, Galway

“The development of an institutional repository to demonstrate our research activity and achievement is a central element of Trinity’s research support infrastructure. [RIAN] will also play a vital role in communicating the strength of Irish research to a global audience, in attracting the highest quality of research to Ireland and in enabling valuable links with industrial partners.”
Dr. John Hegarty, Provost, Trinity College Dublin.

Ends

For more information contact:

Paul Sheehan, Director of Library Services, Dublin City University

Telephone: (+353 1) 7005211, Email: paul.sheehan@dcu.ie

University Heads Defend Quality of Graduates – IUA Statement

The Irish Universities Association expresses its concern at recent statements calling into question the quality of Irish university graduates. The general implication of these statements that the grades awarded to students are unmerited is largely based on the fact that the proportion of students achieving higher grades has increased over time. This detracts from the hard won achievements of students and distracts from the real issues facing higher education institutions as they struggle to maintain the student experience against a backdrop of falling investment.

We do not dispute that there has been an increase in higher awards over time – albeit that some of the data reported in the press exaggerates the level of increase which has taken place. However, there are multiple factors which influence this which we now summarise:

  • Greater clarity in relation to course requirements through the use of learning outcomes and the development of assessment strategies consistent with learning outcomes;
  • More transparent assessment strategies and instruments, more feedback on student performance and, in general, better information for students;
  • Greater ease of access to learning materials, though communications technology, availability of e-learning resources, podcasting and on-line material;
  • The spreading of the assessment load through semesterisation with a stronger link between the learning undertaken and its assessment;
  • A revised approach to marking within the NUI Universities to bring their marking schemes into line with international practice. Most notable in this change was to mark across a full one hundred point scale, as opposed to a scale that in some instances was capped at seventy percent. In a globalised world, it is important that approaches to grading in Ireland do not place Irish graduates at a competitive disadvantage in the labour market, either domestically or internationally;
  • An increasing number of honours degree programmes available to students;
  • A growing cohort of mature students strongly motivated and focused on high achievement;
  • A significantly increased emphasis on graduate education which creates demands for higher achievement at undergraduate level in order to secure entry to Masters and PhD programmes, and a research system founded on global competitive peer review;
  • The increased focus on enhancing teaching performance across the universities and the professional development of staff.

As regards standards overall, it is notable that the World Competitiveness Yearbook ranks Ireland as a leader in the flexibility and adaptability of its workforce and in the capacity of the educational system to meet the needs of a competitive economy. These rankings reflect positively on our system and on the quality assurance mechanisms which are in place. In the context of the universities, these include an external examiner system which has a significant proportion of International examiners and a quality assurance system which is also based on external review with an international component. The procedures for quality assurance and enhancement in all our universities are widely regarded as best practice in Europe. Furthermore, each university is subject to regular in-depth reviews of its quality procedures by teams of international experts. The reports of these reviews are published and submitted to the Minister for Education and Science.

However, the IUA is extremely concerned that the current process of disinvesting in education will significantly impact on the quality of the student experience, and attainment levels over time. Specific issues which should be highlighted are: growing class sizes, the threat to small group teaching and problem based learning, and the under-resourcing of pastoral care and access programmes which are vital to student attainment and overall wellbeing.

We ask the Minister to be cognisant of calls from external commentators, including industry, to continually improve standards and quality. The universities believe this is essential: growing the skills and competencies of our people is something to be valued, and continuous improvement is as important to education as it is to industry. We therefore call on the Minister to focus his attentions on the core issue of the need for investment to underpin that improvement, and to bring forward proposals to ensure that higher education can continue to support employment, competitiveness and social progress.

Ends

For further information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association. Telephone: 01 6764948, 085 7141414. Email: lia.osullivan@iua.ie