NUI Galway's reform agenda being implemented "quickly and without rancour"– Pres

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

-President supports establishment of multimillion euro fund to drive reform in the University system-

University Reform, identified as a key issue in the recently published OECD Report, is being successfully implemented in NUI Galway through widespread consultation with staff and in a collegiate spirit, according to NUI Galway President, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh. The President was speaking at the University's final conferring ceremony of the year today (Tuesday).

Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said that there appears to have been a widely-perceived implication in the media that because there have been major internal disagreements in other universities on these matters, those universities are perceived as being "the most advanced" in terms of reform. However, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh stated that substantial reforms have already been instituted at NUI Galway based on a strong consultative process and that NUI Galway is to the forefront among the Irish universities in terms of reforms actually implemented.

He said: "For our part, we believe that reasoned dialogue and exchange of ideas are the essence of a university, and would suggest that because we have engaged in such debate and deliberation, we have managed to arrive at collegial positions on difficult issues, thus enabling reforms to be implemented relatively quickly and without rancour."

In conjunction with this, Dr Ó Muircheartaigh also welcomed Minister Hanafin's proposal that a multimillion fund be established to support reforms in the university system but called for a process that is open and clear with measurable metrics. Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said, "We would urge that, if such a fund is set up, whatever process is adopted for the allocation of this fund should be open and transparent, and that clear and measurable metrics be applied both in relation to what has already been achieved, and in relation to proposed further reforms. There is no doubt that our continuing reform can certainly be accelerated with financial support." Dr Ó Muircheartaigh went on to outline specific changes implemented in NUI Galway's academic programmes and structures:

  • A number of departments have been successfully amalgamated to create larger academic units, and, as a matter of policy, are actively promoting this agenda. Two chairs and associated departments have been suppressed in areas where student demand did not justify the continuation of such departments.
  • The University has semesterised and modularised all of its undergraduate academic programmes.
  • The start of the academic year has successfully been brought forward to early September in order to support this modularisation and semesterisation. Again this has been achieved with the full support of all staff.
  • A Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT) has been created and resourced in order to provide support for staff in their teaching activities, including active encouragement to use the most advanced technology available.
  • NUI Galway has successfully competed in all PRTLI (Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions) cycles and has succeeded in embedding both the PRTLI-related research centres and the new structures funded by SFI (Science Foundation Ireland) into reformed academic structures. In particular, the University has developed new structures to integrate the teaching and research functions both within and across departments.
  • The University's Quality Assessment function has succeeded in completing a full cycle of assessments of all academic departments, and, where appropriate, significant reforms – both structural and operational - have been instituted.
  • With the support of academic staff, NUI Galway has successfully launched a Service Learning and Community Knowledge Programme in order to involve students more actively in the community. This programme actively encourages students to engage with communities on a volunteering basis – in Galway, throughout the region, nationally and internationally and NUI Galway has begun to integrate such activities into the University's formal academic structures.
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