Ambitious plan to catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide while securing €100 million in competitive EU research funds were launched last week.
For students, Vision 2020 promises work-based learning experiences across 80 per cent of undergraduate programmes. Students will also benefit from new accommodation and enhanced facilities for field and water sports. Internationally, NUI Galway will maintain and grow the global spread of its student population, the five-year plan intends to have 25 per cent of the student body coming from outside Ireland.
Locally, the University plans to develop a major Industry and Innovation Hub and lead Galway’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2020. NUI Galway will also continue its key agenda of achieving gender equality and empowering staff to reach their full potential.
At the unveiling of the plan to all university staff, Dr Browne spoke of the approach to the University’s 175th birthday in 2020 and how all present could be truly proud of recent successes: “The past decade has been a period of transformation and rapid growth especially in terms of our campus - with the development of new buildings, facilities and research laboratories.
“We have invested €400 million in our capital development. Now it’s time to build on the strengths of our people - to invest in and support our organisation as it becomes recognised locally and nationally and internationally as a university of choice, relevance and renown in the eyes if the world.”
Catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide
Bucking the national trend and consistently increasing its position over recent years in the most respected and competitive world rankings, - the Times Higher Education (314 ) and QS ranking (284 ) - NUI Galway was the only Irish university to increase its position in these two main international rankings. The European Commission’s U-Multi-rank system in 2015 scored NUI Galway the highest ranking of 4 A grades. NUI Galway also ranked in the Top 100 most international universities in 2015 in Times Higher Education’s indicator for international outlook.
With its growing profile, NUI Galway will push its pursuit of an ambitious internationalisation agenda. It will commit to, and focus energy on being a top 200 ranked university by 2020. With this aim of becoming one of the world’s top-tier universities, it will build on relationships of substance that span the globe. This ambition will be driven by the University’s focus on internationally recognised achievements in specific areas of teaching, research, and community engagement. NUI Galway will maintain and grow the international nature of its student population. Vision 2020 commits the University to attract 25% of the student body from outside Ireland.
Secure over €100 million in competitive EU research funds
Building on the University’s success so far with European Research Council (ERC ) grants, Vision 2020, commits to securing €100 million research funding from EU programmes. The University has prioritised five cross–disciplinary research themes, building on its international success: Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy; Biomedical Science and Engineering; Environment, Marine and Energy; Humanities in Context, including Digital Humanities; and Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences.
A major success in recent years has been the expansion of PhD research at NUI Galway to have one of the highest rates of enrolment in Ireland on structured PhD programmes. The University will target in excess of 200 doctoral graduates per annum by 2020 and 80% of PhD students participating in structured PhD programmes, up from 40%.
Transform organisational culture to achieve gender equality
The University intends to serve and engage with its diverse communities in mutually enriching ways, through enhanced relationship on campus, in the region and around the world. Among its commitments to communities it serves, is its commitment to equality for staff.
“NUI Galway is a university on a journey”, continued Dr Browne. Our grounds are open and welcoming, a centre of study and work, but also a place to visit, live work and play. Our human capital is our most valuable asset and we are committed to ensuring all colleagues have the opportunity to contribute fully and be recognised for their efforts. Our new Strategic Plan will actively respond to the developmental, professional and personal needs of all of our colleagues; transform the organisational culture to improve gender quality; and to secure Athena Swan award which recognises good employment practice for women working in higher education.”
The NUI Galway student is a global citizen and students are educated to be valued for their academic excellence, their distinctiveness, and their world readiness.
Dr Browne explained: “Our first commitment is, and will always be, to our students and our commitment to delivering excellent academic and developmental opportunities for our students informs all our decision-making. NUI Galway’s reputation for top quality teaching is rightly celebrated and we will continue to provide, recognise and reward this teaching excellence.”
The University’s teaching is widely recognised too in its successes in student retention and this very high rate of 84% will be maintained. The Strategic Plan outlines that 80% of all undergraduates will receive a work-based experience. The University is also recognised in its leadership in the use of online and blended learning technologies; and in its recruitment of students from non-traditional backgrounds. Vision 2020 will see these accomplishments enhanced, including revised admissions requirements for students applying from Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Among the targets outlined, the University has committed to the construction of new sports facilities, to include an elite water sports facility; 3G synthetic training and competition facility for all sporting codes; additional sports pitch; as well as an upgrade of existing natural grass surfaces.
In addition, the University plans to make almost 1,000 new student residences available – bolstering its commitment to attracting international students. A new purpose-built home for Drama, Theatre and Performance will also be completed. The new Strategic Plan will enhance community partnership through initiatives such as an Industry and Innovation Hub and by leading Galway’s European Capital of Culture bid.