Launch of new national student survey

 A new national survey of third level students, launched today (Friday 13 December 2013), will help Irish higher education institutions to enhance the quality of education they provide by asking students in detail about their experiences. This fully national survey is the first system-wide survey of its kind in Europe and will be rolled out by participating institutions in February – March 2014.

 The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) is designed to reach out to students and to hear about their full experience of higher education. Student feedback will provide institutions with valuable information that they can use to identify effective practice and provision and to prompt awareness of, and action on, any particular issues or challenges that affect students.

Student engagement with institutional life is a vital ingredient to ensure that students develop key skill-sets such as critical thinking, problem-solving, writing skills, team work and communication skills.

A pilot survey was offered in 2013 to all first year undergraduate, final year undergraduate and taught postgraduate students.  Over 12,700 students across 26 higher education institutions participated, helping to make the survey representative of the overall student voice.  In 2014, 30 institutions will participate in the survey including all Universities, all Institutes of Technology and all Colleges of Education.

Speaking at the launch, Tom Boland (CEO of the HEA) said; “Today marks another milestone in the implementation of the National Strategy for Higher Education with the publication of the outcomes of the national pilot study for the Irish Survey of Student Engagement. This is the first system-wide survey of student engagement in Europe and it will establish the student voice at the heart of higher education policy and practice.”

Joe O’Connor, President of USI, said – “In order to enhance quality and standards in Higher Education, it is vitally important that the voice of the student is listened to and harnessed effectively. This survey, through this national partnership, allows us to gauge student feedback in a way we had previously been unable to. I would call on all students to ensure they have their say, and for Higher Education Institutions to take this input seriously in implementing initiatives following on from analysis of the data produced.”

Some Results from the Pilot Survey

  • 72% of all participating students reported positive relationships with teaching staff, finding them to be available, helpful and sympathetic (a score of 5 or greater on 7 point scale).
  • 62% of all participating students selected often or very often, when asked if they were improving knowledge and skills that will contribute to their employability
  • 50% of all participating students selected / reported quite a bit, or very much when asked if they were solving complex real world problems
  • 60% of all participating students selected often or very often, when asked if they used an online learning system to complete an assignment
  • 58% of all participating students selected often or very often, when asked if they had conversations with students of a different ethnicity/nationality
  • 25% of all participating students selected plan to or done, when asked if they were considering Study abroad/student exchange
  • 79% of all participating students selected good or excellent, when asked how they would evaluate their entire educational experience at their institutional
  • 76% of all participating students selected quite a bit or very much, when asked if they spend a significant amount of time studying and on academic work.

Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology and representing Institutes of Technology Ireland said; “Research shows that positive student engagement favours the development of important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.  The use of a single comprehensive survey nationally benefits individual institutions and national dialogue around higher education by providing evidence directly from the student as to how we are responding to this challenge in Ireland.”

Mark Rogers, Deputy President and Registrar of UCD representing the Irish Universities Association said; “this engagement survey will provide the universities with a very rich set of data about the whole student experience of higher education. Results from the ISSE along with other institutional and national datasets will inform ongoing discussions within each HEI on the student experience and how it may be further enhanced.”

ISSE is funded centrally by the Higher Education Authority and is a national collaborative partnership between HEA, IOTI, IUA and USI.  The survey was developed in response to a key recommendation of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 that every higher education institution should put in place a comprehensive anonymous student feedback system to inform institutional and programme/course development, as well as national policy.

Mary Doyle, Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills said: “The collaborative partnership approach adopted for this project has successfully developed a survey instrument of high quality that will lend valuable insight into the experience of students in Irish higher education over coming years. More importantly, it will contribute to an increasing evidence base to inform national dialogue and policy around higher education.”

ISSE is based on best practice internationally as developed by the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) since 2007 and the US National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) since 2000.


For more information contact:

Sean O’Reilly, Project Manager, Irish Survey of Student Engagement         01 7082952          085 8194551

Student Survey Infographic

IUA Media Release – A New Horizon in European Research for Irish Universities

Dr Conor O'Carroll, Director of Research IUA, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Sean Sherlock T.D, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Prof. Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research, NUI Galway at the launch of the IUA Action Plan Horizon 2020 Sustaining Excellence in University Research and Innovation

Dr Conor O’Carroll, Director of Research IUA, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Sean Sherlock T.D, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Prof. Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research, NUI Galway at the launch of the IUA Action Plan Horizon 2020 Sustaining Excellence in University Research and Innovation

An action plan for participation of the Irish universities in Horizon 2020 was launched today by Minister for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock T.D. as part of the national launch of the European Union’s new Horizon 2020 Programme.

Horizon 2020 Sustaining Excellence in University Research and Innovation 10.12.13

The action plan entitled “Horizon 2020: Sustaining Excellence in University Research & Innovation” outlines the position of the universities on the Horizon 2020 proposals and sets out a series of recommendations and actions to enhance the performance of Irish universities, giving the sector the best chance of success in Horizon 2020. The Irish Universities, in partnership with the private sector, have been the most successful participants in FP7 and their involvement is essential for Ireland to reach its target of securing over €1 billion in funding from Horizon 2020.

Speaking at the launch Minister Sean Sherlock said, “I welcome the renewed commitment of the universities to maximise their participation in Horizon 2020 across all areas. At a time when national funding for research must be carefully invested, it is critical that the universities and all public research institutions gain maximum leverage from exchequer funds”.

Commenting on the Action Plan, Chair of the IUA VP’s of Research Group Dr Lokesh Joshi said. “This is the first time the universities have published an action plan for a framework programme and it shows our serious intent to achieve success in Horizon 2020. We look forward to working with the Horizon 2020 National Support Network, national funding agencies and government in this regard. The universities are also fully committed to the National Research Prioritisation plan and we will ensure that our research strengths across the full spectrum of disciplines are maintained.”

Produced by the universities through the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the document identifies a series of actions which the universities will undertake to enhance their performance in Horizon 2020 including:

  • Maintaining and increasing research excellence across all disciplines by improving the universities’ performance in European Research Council Calls. This will attracting excellent researchers to relocate to Ireland, and target those with high potential already here;
  • Strengthening partnerships with the private sector to maximise the returns from the three Pillars of Horizon 2020 and ensure the implementation of the National Research Prioritisation plan;
  • Maximising commercialisation opportunities from Horizon 2020 projects – the new Central Technology Transfer Office led by Dr. Alison Campbell OBE will take a key role in this aspect;
  • Developing targeted Horizon 2020 funding strategies for large-scale research centres including the new SFI Centres;
  • Ensure an all island report by promoting extensive collaboration with universities and companies in Northern Ireland working with InterTrade Ireland and InvestNI.

In their plan, the universities also identify actions that can be taken by Government Departments, Research Funding Agencies and the National Support System that will significantly improve performance in Horizon 2020. There are two in particular:

  • Structuring national funding calls to allow researchers to build capacity in the Horizon 2020 research areas, thereby leveraging their national funding with Horizon 2020 funding;
  • Strategically using European Structural and Investment Funds to increase the research system’s capacity to participate in Horizon 2020, with particular reference to investment in human capital and research infrastructure. The universities are keen to take advantage of opportunities to harness the synergies between Horizon 2020 and Structural Funds, as foreseen by the Commission.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) sponsored Marie Curie Office at the Irish Universities Association will play a strong role in this Horizon 2020 National Support Network.  The Marie Curie National Contact Point and National Delegate are keen to build on Irish success in the FP7 Marie Curie Actions, which has been Ireland’s 2nd largest FP7 income stream with €83 million secured to the end of July this year.

The EURAXESS Ireland Office at the Irish Universities Association funded by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation will play a complementary role, assisting researchers to relocate to Ireland including finding job and funding opportunities, and help with immigration.


For More Information contact:

Dr Jennifer Brennan, Marie Curie National Contact Point based at the Irish Universities Association.
Tel: 01 6764948. Email:


Career Opportunities in Procurement Reform

The establishment of the Office of Government Procurement is a key element in the Government’s Reform Programme. Procurement will deliver significant savings to the State by establishing new centre-led structures and by driving a programme of collaborative savings projects across the state sector, including Higher Education. The recently-appointed Chief Procurement Officer is now recruiting a leadership team for this critical programme. 

The advertised roles are for

  • a Sourcing Director,
  • a Head of Customer Service, 
  • a Head of Operations, 
  • a Programme Manager and 
  • a Business Intelligence Manager. 

These roles offer suitably qualified and experienced candidates an opportunity to join the new Procurement Executive in leading a ground-breaking transformation across the public service. More details are available at  

Note: the closing date of August 8th

New Director of Technology Transfer Dr Alison Campbell OBE appointed

Dr Alison Campbell OBE

Dr Alison Campbell OBE

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) today announces the appointment of Alison Campbell as Director of Technology Transfer.  Dr Campbell will head up the soon to be established central Technology Transfer Office at Enterprise Ireland, which will act as a focal point for the development of commercialisation in the universities and wider public research system.

The central Technology Transfer Office (cTTO) will add a new dimension to the national research and commercialisation infrastructure.  Its goal is to ensure that intellectual property (IP) arising from public research is effectively captured and developed to spin off new jobs and new business in indigenous and foreign owned firms here.

The collaboration between IUA and Enterprise Ireland reflects the shared desire of the universities and the Government to create an innovation ecosystem which drives export led growth and capitalises on the talent and ideas of researchers in both the public and private sector, as reflected in the national framework for IP: ‘Putting Public Research to Work for Ireland’.

Dr Campbell has an outstanding track record in the field of research and technology transfer, beginning as an industry scientist and also having acted as CEO of the UK Medical Research Council.  More recently she was Managing Director of King’s College London Business Ltd and has also acted as a consultant to public and private sector organisations.  Alison is currently non-executive Director of PraxisUnico – the UK technology transfer association, and was awarded an OBE in 2010 in recognition of her contribution to Technology Transfer.  As a member of the team that reviewed the Irish Technology Transfer Office for Enterprise Ireland in 2010, and SFI in 2012, she possesses a strong insight into the key stakeholders in the Irish marketplace.

Commenting on the importance of the cTTO to Ireland Alison Campbell said: ‘Ireland is in a good place, it has invested effectively in science.  Its TTOs and universities offer a strong baseline to build upon and gain benefits from the sum of the parts.  Through the creation of the cTTO, the role as its Director represents a unique opportunity to add value to Ireland’s innovation ecosystem.  There is a story to be told here reflecting achievements and imbuing confidence’.

Ned Costello, Chief Executive of IUA, welcomed the appointment saying: ‘I am delighted to welcome Dr Campbell as the new Director of Technology Transfer.  Alison has an exceptional mix of private and public sector experience that positions her ideally to build on existing investments in research and commercialisation.  By working closely with all the stakeholders in the system we can generate more and better IP and, most importantly, ensure that it is transformed into wealth and jobs’.

Frank Ryan, Enterprise Ireland CEO, commented: ‘I am delighted to welcome Dr Campbell to Enterprise Ireland, and look forward to seeing some great results from her and her colleagues in the cTTO. Industries across the world are looking for ways to become more innovative and ultimately competitive. The focus of the cTTO will be to improve both national and international companies’ ability to access the wealth of experience and IP present in the Irish publicly funded research system. The cTTO will ensure that the major research strengths we have built up over the past decade are directed firmly towards viable business ideas and ultimately jobs’.


For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, IUA  01 6764948

National Co-ordinator appointed for Universities’ Campus Engage Initiative

Kate Morris

Kate Morris, Campus Engage National Co-ordinator

The Irish Universities Association has appointed Kate Morris as Campus Engage National Coordinator. Campus Engage is a platform for the promotion of civic engagement activities in Irish higher education, and is funded by the Irish government through the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Campus Engage is open to all higher education institutions in Ireland, and aims to strengthen the relationship between higher education and the wider society, through the promotion of civic engagement activities in higher education and facilitating the sharing of knowledge and resources between academic and civic communities. This falls within the broader objectives of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030.

The National Coordinator will drive the Campus Engage Initiative to support the on-going development of activities such as: service learning / community based learning, student volunteering, community engaged research and knowledge exchange and sharing, in order to increase the number of courses, activities and levels of participation in these areas across Irish higher education. A new Campus Engage Action Plan has recently been agreed, and funding secured for the period 2013 – 2015. Further information on Campus Engage can be found at

Most recently Kate was employed as a Project Specialist at the Centre for Effective Services, managing the Centre´s knowledge exchange network and communication systems, delivering a range of capacity building tools to support and promote evidence-informed community, voluntary and youth work services, practice and policy. She has also worked with the UNESCO Centre, Northern Ireland on a children and young people’s wellbeing monitoring project, and in Ireland setting up knowledge and communications systems for Educate Together, amongst others. At EU level Kate managed an FP6 European Commission research project that studies young people’s experience of participation, education and access to employment; and on an EU Policy Indexing project that studies access to nationality, political participation, and anti-discrimination in the EU.


More Information: Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager IUA, 01 6764948.

Reforms to Support Students’ Transition from Post-Primary to Higher Education Addressed at a Major Conference

On June 24th a major conference was held in NUI Maynooth on “Supporting a better transition from second-level into higher education”. The conference, organised by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in partnership with the IUA focused on three themes: How to address problematic predictability in the Leaving Certificate, how to reduce the number of grading bands in the Leaving Certificate and how to introduce broader entry routes into higher education for school leavers.

The conference was attended by a wide group of experts and stakeholders and research on how to tackle the points system and address predictability in exams was presented.

In his opening address, Minister Quinn acknowledged stakeholders’ concerns about the need for reforms in these three areas: “There is widespread agreement in this room and beyond that our young peoples’ potential and experience of education is being threatened by the nature of a high-stakes Leaving Certificate examination that is also used to determine entry into higher education.”

IUA has been working in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and other relevant bodies, including the State Exams Commission, and Institutes of Technology Ireland to address the complex set of issues involved.

While significant progress on the transition from second level to higher education has been made, further work is required to complete this process by the end of this year. The changes agreed will be implemented on a phased basis for fifth year students who commence the Leaving Certificate cycle in 2014.

The areas identified for further work include the exploration of issues such as the number of grades in the Leaving Certificate, the level of CAO points to be awarded to each Leaving Certificate Grade and the use of additional tools to be used in conjunction with Leaving Certificate points to allocate places in higher education

Minister Quinn said the high quality discussion amongst experts and stakeholders attending the conference will inform this process. He said: “I am very happy with progress to date and am confident that implementation of these reforms will be of enormous benefit to students in the future. It is important that we are informed through analysis and evidence of the potential impacts of reform in such a sensitive area. The results of the research underway and the important contribution made at this conference will be drawn together by the end of this year when we should be able to see a clear path forward for implementing the changes necessary at second level and in higher education” he said.

Click here for videos of the conference presentations –

Changes to HPAT-Ireland for Entry to Under-Graduate Medical Courses

The IUA wishes to announce changes to the HPAT-Ireland examination which is used for entry to all undergraduate medical courses at Irish Higher Education Institutions. The main focus of these changes is to enhance equity of access and transparency.

The changes are as follows:

Change 1: Revised Weighting of HPAT- Ireland Test Sections. Effective from 2014

The revised weighting scheme as outlined in Table 1 below will be implemented for the 2014 HPAT-Ireland test.  The change in weighting of the 3 sections aims to reduce the potential benefits of repeating the examination, as an evaluation of HPAT-Ireland has shown that Non-Verbal Reasoning scores can be improved through repeating the exam.

HPAT-Ireland Test Section Old Weighting New  Weighting 2014
1. Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving

1 (33.3%)

2 (40%)

2. Interpersonal Understanding

1 (33.3%)

2 (40%)

3. Non-Verbal Reasoning

1 (33.3%)

1 (20%)

Table 1: revised weighting for each of the three sections of the HPAT–Ireland test

Change 2: HPAT-Ireland Examination Results Valid for One Year Only. Effective from 2013

The results of HPAT-Ireland examinations sat in 2013 and subsequent years will only be valid for a single year for admission to undergraduate medical courses.

This means that it will not be possible to present results achieved in the 2013 sitting of the HPAT-Ireland test for admission to undergraduate medical courses in 2014.

Applicants who sat the HPAT-Ireland exam in 2012 will still be able to present their 2012 HPAT-Ireland result when applying for admission to undergraduate medicine in 2013.

Change 3: HPAT-Ireland Practice Material Being Made Available to All Applicants. Already effective.

Students who registered for the HPAT-Ireland 2013 test received, as part of their registration, a copy of the HPAT-Ireland Practice Test booklet, which contains worked answers to assist them with their test preparation.  This change will continue to apply in subsequent years.

The changes apply to:

  • National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
  • Trinity College, Dublin (TCD)
  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • University College Dublin (UCD)


Additional Point of Clarification:

Students with Leaving Certificates from previous years can still apply for entry to medicine it is only the HPAT test that has to be sat in the year of entry.


2707 sat the HPAT exam in 2013. The results of that exam were issued on Monday 24th June.

These changes are based on a number of recommendations made in July 2012 by a National Research Group which evaluated Revised Entry Mechanisms to Medicine.  The following recommendations were considered and approved in Spring 2013 by the academic councils of all institutions with undergraduate medical courses.

On the basis of three years of evidence of the performance of HPAT-Ireland, the recommendations of the National Research Group were as follows:

  1. A redistribution is applied to the weighting of HPAT-Ireland sections (as outlined in Table 1) to reduce the contribution of Section 3 scores to the overall score in order to reduce the impact of repeat effects;
  2. HPAT-Ireland scores be valid for a period of one year only;
  3. 3.       Further practice material be made available to all HPAT-Ireland applicants which also includes some examples of correct responses and the rationales to these to ensure adequate opportunities for all to become familiar with the test format and sample items.

The full report of the National Research Group is available on

Increase in numbers of Saudi Arabian students choosing Ireland for their 3rd level education

Olivia Moss, UCD International Recruitment Assistant and Dr Khalid Al Eisa, Saudi Arabian Cultural Attaché to Ireland with Reem Abuaof, currently a student of the Atlantic Language School Dublin pictured at the Irish Universities Fair for Saudi Students

Olivia Moss, UCD International Recruitment Assistant and Dr Khalid Al Eisa, Saudi Arabian Cultural Attaché to Ireland with Reem Abuaof, currently a student of the Atlantic Language School Dublin pictured at the Irish Universities Fair for Saudi Students

There are currently over 1500 Saudi Arabian students in Ireland studying and preparing for higher education under the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme.  With their accompanying family members that number grows to over 3600. This represents a dramatic increase over the last 3 years from a couple of hundred students in 2009. According to UNESCO the King Abdullah Scholarship Scheme has over 400,000 students studying worldwide and the number coming to study in Ireland is expected to grow under the scholarship scheme.

Ireland’s seven universities hosted an information day for new Saudi Arabian at the Royal College of Physicians on Monday 27th May 2013. The event was opened by Saudi Arabia’s new Cultural Attaché to Ireland Dr Khalid Al Eisa who is currently in the process of opening an office in Dublin.

Commenting on the popularity of Ireland as a study destination for Saudi Students Dr Al Eisa said, “Saudi Arabia is looking for a quality education for its students and we believe that Ireland has one of the best education systems in the world. We feel that investment in education is an important issue for our country, particularly in areas where we have a skills shortage; medicine, engineering and ICT.

The education fair organised by the Irish Universities Association on behalf of the seven universities was attended by more than 150 students currently preparing to embark on university undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Students, who are currently in English language schools in Ireland, were given one to one advice on university course offerings and options.



For more information contact:

Sinead Lucey, International Education Manager, Irish Universities Association

Tel: 01 6764948 email:

One-stop shop for research jobs and funding opportunities for business launched

Media Release
Tuesday, 14 May 2013

European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and Minister Sean Sherlock TD with Jennifer Cleary EURAXESS Ireland, David Prendergast Intel Labs Europe and Anthony McCauley Fujitsu Ireland

An important new web resource for business detailing R&D funding opportunities and jobs was launched today by Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr. Sean Sherlock TD.

The new resource is an extension of the portal and is specifically dedicated to business.

The portal brings together a number of important resources that companies can access directly:

  •  Advertise vacancies
  • Search an online database of researcher CVs
  • Access the fast track research visas system, and
  • Search for funding support opportunities

The new R&D funding search facility allows businesses to search in real-time for all national and European funding supports for their business and research activities.  This will address a common industry concern that this information is both fragmented and difficult to access.

Minister Sherlock said: “This great new resource will give a boost to research and development and clearly demonstrates that when it comes to innovation, Ireland is open for business. Businesses have specifically asked for a one-stop shop for these queries and that is exactly what this new portal does. ”

The portal has been developed by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) EURAXESS office which is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the European Commission. It is the first of its kind in the wider European EURAXESS network.

The European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, underlined the importance of this new service, “This new Industry User Interface will make EURAXESS Ireland more attractive to industry. We will be exploring the possibility of rolling this out to other countries so that business users across Europe will have a tailored interface including both job and funding opportunities”.


For more information contact:

Jennifer Cleary, EURAXESS Ireland Office, Irish Universities Association.
Phone; 01 6764948 email:

 Additional Information: 

Based in the Irish Universities Association (IUA), EURAXESS Ireland was established in 2004 with support from the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation and the European Commission. The office provides free practical support for organisations and researchers moving to higher education institutions, research organisations and companies in Ireland and throughout Europe and is linked to a European network of over 200 EURAXESS mobility centres in 40 countries across Europe.

EURAXESS Ireland advertises jobs and funding opportunities for Higher Education Institutions and industry and provides access to a CV database where researchers upload their profiles and employers search for suitable candidates.

EURAXESS Ireland implements a fast track immigration scheme for researchers from outside of Europe. Over the last six years 1,750 researchers have come to Ireland under this Hosting Agreement scheme. There are over 42 organisations using the scheme including universities, institutes of technology, research institutions and private sector companies.

EURAXESS Ireland also promotes the Brazilian ‘Science Without Borders’ scheme, a key national service that will help attract 600 Brazilian PhD students to Ireland over the next three years.

Fast-Track “Scientific Visa” attracts talented researchers to Ireland to boost innovation

14th May 2013

Launch of study: “Attracting Researchers to Ireland: The Impact of the Scientific Visa”

Conor O'Carroll, IUA Research Director, Minister Sean Sherlock TD, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Maire Geoghegan Quinn, Jennifer Cleary and Magda Wislocka EURAXESS Ireland

Ireland’s reputation as an innovation hub has been given a boost by the introduction of a fast-track scientific visa, a new survey of internationally mobile researchers reveals. The European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Ms. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn launched the findings of the survey at the Irish Presidency conference on Researcher Careers and Mobility held at Dublin Castle on Tuesday May 14th.

 Over the last six years, 1,720 researchers from 78 different countries have come to Ireland using the fast track Scientific Visa which is part of the Commission drive to create a European Research Area. The scheme offers a free and fast service for both educational institutions and companies. By registering for a hosting agreement participants can benefit from accelerated procedures for research staff coming from overseas. As a result, visas are issued rapidly and work permits are not required. A further attraction is the fact that researchers’ families can accompany them immediately and avail of public schooling.

The scheme is operated by the EURAXESS Ireland office based in the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and supported by government through the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, and with the close involvement of immigration authorities.

The recent IUA EURAXESS Ireland Office survey involved over 300 researchers who have participated in the scheme. The top satisfaction rating was given to the significant reduction of the length of the immigration process.  EURAXESS Ireland statistics show that on average the process takes a maximum of 2 weeks, with the majority of visas being processed in two to four weeks. Prior to the introduction of the scheme the average processing time was six to eight weeks.

The survey revealed that 23% of researchers would definitely not have come to Ireland if the scheme were not in place. Another 53% said they might have decided not to choose Ireland for the next step in their research career without this facility. Only 24% would have come regardless of the immigration process. This shows clearly that immigration issues are a key deciding factor in locational decisions.

Speaking at the launch Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said, “The publication demonstrates the remarkable success of Ireland’s participation in the Scientific Visa after opting voluntarily to implement the Third Country Directive in 2007.  As many as one quarter of researchers using the scheme said they would definitely not have come to Ireland if this fast track immigration were not in place. So it really is a crucial initiative.”

There are over 40 organisations using the fast track scheme including universities, institutes of technology, research organizations and companies with over half of the researchers involved coming from China, the USA and India. Universities are significantly the largest users of the scheme at over 80%, with many researchers now involved in joint university-industry research activities supported by government through Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD commended the scheme saying: “the openness of Ireland’s research and innovation system is greatly boosted by this initiative. I hope that the scheme will continue to expand and I hope to see its take-up, especially by our innovative export sector, increase further in the coming years”.

For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association.
Phone; 085 7141414 email:

Ireland playing its part in meeting EU targets for High Value Jobs – Minister Sherlock

Media Release

Irish Presidency Conference on Researcher Careers and Mobility
Dublin Castle, Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Ned Costello CEO IUA, Minister Sean Sherlock TD, European Commissioner of Research and Innovation Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and Prof. Brian MacCraith President of DCU


Ireland is playing an important part in helping the EU meet it targets for the creation of high-value jobs according to Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD. The Minister was speaking at a conference, hosted by the Irish Presidency of the EU, on Researcher Careers and Mobility to focus on measures to ensure the free movement of researchers and knowledge across Europe.

The conference is bringing researchers and policy makers from Europe and beyond together to discuss a number of crucial issues including: fast track immigration; open and transparent hiring policies; and upskilling researchers to increase their access to leading positions across all sectors of the economy and society.

This conference will work on practical solutions to realise Europe’s ambitions to create a “European Research Area” for the free movement of researchers and knowledge. The goal is to make Europe a more welcoming place for researchers – retaining our own and also drawing from the global talent pool. This is a cornerstone of the European Research Area policy which Ireland has adopted and implemented through the concerted efforts of government, higher education and industry.

Minister Sherlock stressed the importance of finding practical solutions to fulfilling ambitions for the European Research Area when he said: “We must foster research excellence to maintain our leading international position. We must provide pathways to enable researchers to find employment in industry where their talents can lead innovation and the development of new products and services”.

Across Europe, over 5 million jobs have been lost between 2008 and 2010. In contrast, knowledge-based jobs driven by research and innovation increased by more than 800,000. “Talent is essential to success in the race for global leadership in innovation”, the Minister said.

Speaking at the conference, the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn stated that, “the European Research Area will help ensure a sufficient supply of highly qualified workers by offering researchers more attractive and rewarding careers, and by removing any obstacles to mobility across sectors and countries. Think of it as a “European Single Market” for research, knowledge and ideas”. 

Welcoming the conference delegates, Prof Brian MacCraith, President Dublin City University said: “the Irish universities are convinced that open recruitment, high quality doctoral training and researcher career development are all extremely important in driving excellence and maintaining Ireland’s global reputation as an innovation hub”.

 In a lively programme of interactive sessions, delegates will be invited to discuss topics such as how to support researchers in making the transition to from college lab to industry, and preparing PhD students for a wide range of employment opportunities. There will be a focus on connecting a nation to its research diaspora, drawing on the progress made by Ireland through the Wild Geese Network of Irish Scientists.


For more information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association.

Phone: 085 7141414 email:

Call for Brazilian Students for 1yr Study Abroad Programmes in Ireland – 19.2.13

The Irish Universities Association is delighted to announce the first call for Irish Universities to welcome Brazilian students to Ireland on 1 year study abroad programmes.

Media Release
February 19th 2013

Ambassador Frank Sheridan with Dr Jorge Almeida Guimaraes, President of the CAPES Foundation 14th December 2012.

The Irish Universities Association is delighted to announce the first call for Irish Universities to welcome Brazilian students to Ireland on 1 year study abroad programmes.

Ambassador Frank Sheridan signed the agreement of participation for Irish Higher Education Institutions in the undergraduate programmes of Ciencia Sem Fronteiras, with Dr Jorge Almeida Guimaraes, President of the CAPES Foundation on the 14th December 2012. The first group of Brazilian undergraduate students can now apply for funding to study in Ireland directly on the CAPES website.

Once funding is approved Brazilian students will be able to apply to Irish Institutions through the common application system from May 10th – May 20th 2013. A link to this common application system will be on the CAPES website during the month of May.

There is a dedicated call back service for Brazilian students interested in studying in Ireland click here to register your interest and receive a call back to handle your enquiries.



IBEC publishes National Survey of Employer’s Views of Irish Higher Education Outcomes

The pilot survey, published January 2013,  was developed by a steering group of Ireland’s main business organisations with inputs from the IUA, the Institutes of Technology Ireland, FAS and the Association of Higher Education Career Services at the request of, and in collaboration with, the HEA. The National Strategy for Higher Education recommended that a national survey of employers should be taken by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on a regular basis and used as part of an assessment of quality outcomes for the system. The survey of a representative sample of 402 companies of various sizes and representing 12.8% of total employment in Ireland was conducted during the second half of 2012 and lays the foundation for a regular survey that will be carried out to inform policy and practice in higher education.


Some of the key findings of the survey are:
Over 75% of companies are confident that graduates have the right workplace and transferable skills and relevant subject or discipline knowledge.
Over 80% of companies were satisfied with the calibre of science and maths graduates. 
The majority of PhD graduates were employed because the job required doctorate level skills or qualifications.
50% of companies want to see more engagement between higher education and industry.
36% have recruited graduates from non-Irish institutions, with many citing an insufficient number of Irish graduates, especially in computing, as their prime reason for so doing.
Concerns were identified about graduates’ abilities to effectively communicate, especially in writing and about graduates having the “right attitude”.

Current Position:

The results provide an interesting baseline for future surveys. In particular, some of the findings will be particularly meaningful over time as trends and patterns may become apparent. Similarly, the pilot has provided information for alterations to the survey instrument also.


Kara McGann
Phone: +353 1 605 1636