Fourth progress report on work of Universities Ireland

June 2005

Research project on harmonising regulations, awarding joint degrees and developing joint credit transfer arrangements between universities on the island of Ireland

The draft final report of this research project, by Lewis Purser , formerly of the European University Association, is being circulated as a separate attachment (UIC????). Presidents’ comments would be gratefully received.

Symposium on ‘eLearning as a Strategic Imperative for Universities in Ireland ’ and follow-up

This highly successful event took place in DCU on 4 th November 2004 . It was attended by over 50 people from the nine universities, including three presidents – Professors Hegarty, Gregson and Von Prondzynski – who chaired its three sessions. Also in attendance were senior officials from the Department of Education and Science, Department of Education ( N. Ireland ), HEA and several leading ICT companies. The symposium was addressed by two leading international authorities on this subject, Dr Andy DiPaolo from Stanford University and Professor Diana Laurillard from the UK Department for Education and Skills. A number of follow-up ‘conference call’ meetings have been held with members of the symposium steering group (drawn from QUB, UU, TCD, DCU and NUIG). The idea for follow-up action being discussed is for a module to be delivered via eLearning which all the universities in Ireland can incorporate flexibly into their core courses. The specific proposal is for an introductory module to health informatics which could be fitted into postgraduate courses delivered to doctors, nurses, biomedical engineers etc. It was felt by the steering group that that such a re-usable, adaptable course would be of great interest to health science faculties in all the universities. TCD is currently leading a consortium of RoI universities in a bid to the Higher Education Authority for funding to set up a subject area network in health informatics, and it is hoped that a Northern dimension can eventually be built into this.

Seminar on Irish universities and Eastern and Southern Africa , and follow-up

This seminar in TCD on 31 March 2005 was organised at the suggestion of the presidents at the September 2004 UI Council meeting in order to undertake a preliminary examination of the state of Irish university co-operation with countries and higher education institutions in Eastern and Southern Africa, and how that co-operation might be enhanced by the universities on the island working together on a co-operation project (or projects). The Development Co-operation Ireland (DCI) division of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has offered UI free flights for a visit to those regions to explore with key people there the possibilities of such an inter-university initiative. Around 100 people in Irish universities known to be interested in links with Eastern and Southern Africa were invited and 45 attended. All nine universities, North and South, were represented. The seminar was facilitated by Mr Paud Murphy, former World Bank Lead Education Specialist for Africa and General Secretary of HEDCO, who also prepared a workshop discussion paper. A report on the seminar is attached (paper UIC ????) A follow-up discussion was held with the four facilitators of the seminar working groups – all senior academics – three of whom expressed an interest in travelling to Africa as part of the UI delegation: Professor Jane Grimson, Vice-Provost of TCD, Professor Aine Hyland, Vice-President of UCC, and Dr Peadar Cremin, President of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick . At the same meeting Paud Murphy recommended that Ethiopia and Uganda should be visited by the delegation (see Personal and Preliminary Notes on the proposed visit to Africa , paper UIC ????). Following this meeting, U I Secretary Andy Pollak is recommending to the Council that the delegation should consist of Professor Grimson (who has a particular interest in ICT), Professor Hyland, Dr Cremin (both of whom are interested in education), plus Mr Norman Bennett, Director of Finance at QUB (who has a strong interest in health links with Uganda), and himself as the delegation’s secretary. The plan would be to visit Ethiopia and Uganda in mid-late November, and to report back both to the seminar group and the presidents early in 2006. It has been made clear to the delegation members that they should see their role on this trip as representing the Irish universities as a whole and not their individual institutions.

The first of a series of meetings with Universities UK

This took place on 24 September in Dublin and proved a successful event. The Universities UK delegation was headed by its chair, Professor Ivor Crewe, and its director, Baroness Diana Warwick. Areas discussed included governance (with an Irish presentation by Prof. von Prondzynski), leadership (with a presentation by Dr Brady) and European issues. A second meeting is planned for London in January 2006: UUK is proposing a dinner on Wednesday 25 th January followed by a meeting on the morning of the 26 th.

A study to examine the feasibility of an all-island technology transfer and intellectual property service

It was agreed to explore this in consultation with InterTradeIreland at the last UI Council meeting in September 2004. In October the InterTradeIreland board agreed to support such a feasibility study with a grant of up to £30,000. In November Andy Pollak met Conor O’Carroll of the Confederation of Heads of Irish Universities and a group of Deans of Research and ILOs from seven of the nine universities to discuss the issue. CHIU then agreed to collaborate with UI on the project. Outline terms of reference were delivered to InterTradeIreland in mid-January. A call for tenders went out jointly from UI, CHIU and InterTradeIreland in March and four bids were received from bidders in England , Scotland and Ireland . These were discussed at a meeting in Newry on 11 May, and a bid from Technology and Research Services at Heriott-Watt University in Edinburgh (led by Gillian McFadzean, who is current Chair of the Association for University Research and Industry Links – AURIL – was accepted). The work will be carried out between July and December 2005 at a cost of £27,000.Article series on the role of Irish universities

These articles, suggested at the last UI Council meeting, were published in the Irish Times in early January 2005. Professor Peter Gregson of QUB wrote about Irish higher education in the context of global higher education, with a particular emphasis on co-operation on the island of Ireland (and several paragraphs about the work of Universities Ireland). Professor John Hughes of NUI Maynooth wrote about Irish third level education in the knowledge society. The third article requested, from Dr Martin Naughton, chairman of InterTradeIreland and Glen Dimplex, was not delivered.Events organised in collaboration with InterTradeIreland

On 28 April UI Chairman, Dr O Muircheartaigh, and CHIU chairman, Professor von Prondzynski, addressed a very high level conference in the Hague organised by the Dutch Prime Minister’s office and the US Council of Competitiveness on ‘Promoting Innovation and Competitiveness – A Transatlantic Dialogue.’ University of Ulster Pro-Vice-Chancellor , Professor Bernie Hannigan, also attended. The invitations to them to participate were arranged by Universities Ireland through InterTradeIreland’s representative in the Washington office of the US Council of Competitiveness, Julie Jordan. On 16-17 May Universities Ireland arranged for representatives from all nine Irish universities to attend seminars in Belfast and Dublin organised by InterTradeIreland to hear a team from CONNECT, the University of California at San Diego’s highly successful programme to link UCSD with high technology and life science entrepreneurs in its region. This brings together the university’s school of medicine, school of engineering, super computer centre and other world class research and innovation centres with Southern California ’s entrepreneurs.North-South Masters Scholarships

In May UI offered two scholarships to students undertaking a cross-border Master’s course or a Master’s course requiring re-location to the other Irish jurisdiction. The scholarships are worth €20,000 euros (approx. €14,000) each: one will go to a Northern student wishing to study at a Southern university, and one to a Southern student wishing to study in the North. The winning applicants will be selected by a panel chaired by former HEA Chairman, Dr Don Thornhill, with Dr O Muircheartaigh and Professor Richard Barnett, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster . Applicants will be required to submit a short essay explaining why they wish to study in the other Irish jurisdiction, and how they believe their studies will enhance their understanding of all-island and international perspectives in their chosen discipline. The deadline for applications is 13 th June.

University-Business collaboration events

  • On 16-17 June 2005, UI will organise the fifth North-South Higher Education conference (in Belfast ) under the title ‘Higher Education and Business: Beyond Mutual Incomprehension’ (in collaboration with the Joint Business Council of IBEC and CBI Northern Ireland ). The keynote speaker will be Richard Lambert, former editor of the Financial Times and author of the seminal Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration for the British government. The conference will be opened jointly by the Irish Minister for Education and Science, Ms Mary Hanafin TD, and the Northern Ireland Minister in charge of Employment and Learning, Ms Angela Smith MP. Other speakers will include QUB Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson; NUI Maynooth President, Professor John Hughes; the founder of IONA Technologies, Dr Chris Horn; the founder of Andor Technology, Dr Hugh Cormican; the Director of Enterprise Ireland’s Biotechnology Directorate, Dr Ena Prosser; and the Irish Life Group head of human resources, Mr Niall Saul.
  • On 31 August and 1 September 2005 , also in Belfast , UI will organise a high-level private dinner and seminar on university-business links, to be addressed by the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, Sir Digby Jones, and the director-general of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation,Turlough O’Sullivan. This event, which is also being organised in partnership with the Joint Business Council of IBEC-CBI, will be attended by university presidents, business leaders and heads of relevant government departments, North and South. The autumn meeting of the Universities Ireland Council will immediately follow the seminar on the morning of 1 September.

Andy Pollak
2 June 2005