We are facing an age of unprecedented opportunity and challenge. Society is being transformed by digital and communications technology and is itself transforming the very environment which supports all life on earth. From a communications and transport perspective, society is more connected than ever before, but requires new ways of working together and resolving differences.

UCD STRATEGY 2020-2024

Through our research, our education and the many ways in which we interact with the world around us, universities have a vital role to play in these disruptive times. At UCD, we have both the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that, in everything we do and say, we are contributing to the flourishing of Ireland and the world.

Building on the traditions of the past, we are a university of the future, connected and connecting, engaged and engaging, committed to a sustainable future built on a healthy biosphere.

We will contribute to this sustainable future through our graduates, through our research and through the way we conduct our business. As transactional activities will be increasingly handled electronically, human activity will revolve more and more around creativity, strategic and critical thinking, problem solving and communication.

To respond to these key trends innovatively and proactively, we will adopt four UCD strategic themes which will permeate everything that we do as an institution, guiding the development of our students, our research and our University community.

We will ensure that every member of our community is enabled to achieve their full potential, and we will embrace the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion so that no one is excluded.

Over the last five years UCD has made remarkable progress towards the objectives of the UCD Strategy 2015-2020. We have achieved improvements in student satisfaction; research quality, quantity and impact; student-faculty ratio and gender equality. Notable achievements have been made in the area of engagement, a central theme of that strategy. We have seen extraordinary increases in alumni engagement, industry engagement and global engagement, and a significant increase in philanthropic support. These achievements, made against a backdrop of reduced government funding for Irish universities, were enabled by our building of non-exchequer income.

During the period of the last strategy we moved to a five-year planning horizon, with our projections of student and faculty numbers extended to ten years, informing a strategic campus development plan. We adopted a financial strategy which will see our student-faculty ratio reduced and our infrastructure needs addressed over the period of this strategy. Hence several enablers of this strategy are already well developed. A number of objectives of the last strategy have been substantially achieved, while others, with significant progress already made, remain current and have been retained in this updated strategy.

The progress of UCD over the last five years is a credit to all the members of our University community and to our partners and supporters. We look forward to your continued support of UCD as we embark on this next chapter in the history of a truly extraordinary University.

CORE STATEMENTS

Our mission is to contribute to the flourishing of Dublin, Ireland, Europe and the world through the excellence and impact of our research and scholarship, the quality of our graduates and our national and global engagement; providing a supportive community in which every member of the University is enabled to achieve their full potential.

Our mottos are

Ad astra ‘to the stars’
reflecting our pursuit of achievement and success.
Cothrom na féinne ‘fair play‘
reflecting our commitment to justice and equality.

Our vision for 2024 is that:

As Ireland’s Global University, UCD will rise to the global challenges of the future by pursuing four strategic themes: Creating a Sustainable Global Society; Transforming through Digital Technology; Building a Healthy World; and Empowering Humanity. These strategic themes will shape our research, our teaching and learning and the way we behave and function as a community and as an institution.

We will be truly global in our comprehensive range of disciplines, in the reach and impact of our research and innovation, in our holistic educational experience, in the diversity of our University community, and in our engagement with all sectors of society and with all regions of the world. We will be distinctive in our welcoming and inclusive community, our commitment to innovation and justice, and our agility. We will bring the best of the world to Ireland, and the best of Ireland, including its distinct cultures, to the world.

UCD will continue to be an excellent research-intensive university with global standing and impact where a preeminent, diverse and inclusive scholarly community of students, faculty and staff work in partnership to contribute to the development of Ireland and the world.

Our graduates will be imbued with a knowledge of the past, be capable of critically interrogating the present and of imagining and realising the future. Through a holistic student-focused and research-led educational experience which has both breadth and depth, they will be equipped with the knowledge, skills, experience and attitudes they need to flourish in present and future Irish and global societies.

To focus our contribution to global challenges we have identified four strategic themes. These themes will shape our research, our teaching and learning and the way we behave and function as a community and as an institution.

To achieve our vision for 2024 we will pursue four core objectives. Pursuit of these core objectives will be underpinned by six key enablers.

To shape UCD’s response to the global challenges created by our rapidly changing and transforming society, we have selected four strategic themes on which to focus our efforts. We will respond holistically to each of these themes. The themes will shape our research, influence the teaching of our faculty and our students’ learning, and impact on the way we behave and function as a community and as an institution.

We will create a governance structure to provide leadership to each theme, which will include relevant faculty, staff and student leaders to ensure that our response to the themes is truly holistic.

We will build awareness, knowledge and relevant skills in each theme area through training and development programmes for our faculty, staff and students, and for the wider community. In this way the themes will contribute to research, teaching and learning across our discipline areas, and will inform the way we conduct our business as an organisation. At the same time, we will continue to pursue excellent disciplinary research which enhances human knowledge.

We will provide a dedicated fund for each strategic theme to fund innovation and transformation projects, with priority being given to projects that will have maximum impact on our University community and wider society.

To shape UCD’s response to the global challenges created by our rapidly changing and transforming society, we have selected four strategic themes on which to focus our efforts. We will respond holistically to each of these themes. The themes will shape our research, influence the teaching of our faculty and our students’ learning, and impact on the way we behave and function as a community and as an institution.

We will create a governance structure to provide leadership to each theme, which will include relevant faculty, staff and student leaders to ensure that our response to the themes is truly holistic.

We will build awareness, knowledge and relevant skills in each theme area through training and development programmes for our faculty, staff and students, and for the wider community. In this way the themes will contribute to research, teaching and learning across our discipline areas, and will inform the way we conduct our business as an organisation. At the same time, we will continue to pursue excellent disciplinary research which enhances human knowledge.

We will provide a dedicated fund for each strategic theme to fund innovation and transformation projects, with priority being given to projects that will have maximum impact on our University community and wider society.

Creating a Sustainable Global Society

As a matter of urgency, humanity must learn to live sustainably without degrading its shared planet.

Food must be produced sustainably to feed a stable human population. Energy must be provided from renewable sources, and the processes of generating and storing that energy must not impact negatively on the environment. Material goods of all types must be made from recycled and/or renewable materials. There must be reduced levels of inequality within and between communities. These goals require significant development of technologies and infrastructure, and changes in human behaviours and institutions.

UCD has a long-standing commitment to sustainability. Members of the UCD community have been to the fore in shaping the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have led in research areas such as the bioeconomy, agrifood and renewable energy and have developed education programmes in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. We will now build on this expertise to deliver a holistic response to the challenges of sustainability that spans and unifies our activities in this area.

We will embed the principles of a sustainable society in our University community. Undertaking research which advances the 17 UN Sustainable Developments Goals through generating, sharing and applying knowledge for maximum impact, we will deliver interdisciplinary educational programmes which support our students and graduates to contribute most effectively to the development of a sustainable society.

New governance arrangements for sustainability will enable the university to develop, communicate, implement and adapt its ambitions to the challenges faced by the world. This will ensure that our campus demonstrates the principles of sustainability across policies and operations in respect of estates, energy, technology, procurement, HR, governance and partnership with our neighbours and wider community. The University will set ambitious targets and will report annually against these targets, becoming a ‘living lab’ for a sustainable community.

As a matter of urgency, humanity must learn to live sustainably without degrading its shared planet.

Food must be produced sustainably to feed a stable human population. Energy must be provided from renewable sources, and the processes of generating and storing that energy must not impact negatively on the environment. Material goods of all types must be made from recycled and/or renewable materials. There must be reduced levels of inequality within and between communities. These goals require significant development of technologies and infrastructure, and changes in human behaviours and institutions.

UCD has a long-standing commitment to sustainability. Members of the UCD community have been to the fore in shaping the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have led in research areas such as the bioeconomy, agrifood and renewable energy and have developed education programmes in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. We will now build on this expertise to deliver a holistic response to the challenges of sustainability that spans and unifies our activities in this area.

We will embed the principles of a sustainable society in our University community. Undertaking research which advances the 17 UN Sustainable Developments Goals through generating, sharing and applying knowledge for maximum impact, we will deliver interdisciplinary educational programmes which support our students and graduates to contribute most effectively to the development of a sustainable society.

New governance arrangements for sustainability will enable the university to develop, communicate, implement and adapt its ambitions to the challenges faced by the world. This will ensure that our campus demonstrates the principles of sustainability across policies and operations in respect of estates, energy, technology, procurement, HR, governance and partnership with our neighbours and wider community. The University will set ambitious targets and will report annually against these targets, becoming a ‘living lab’ for a sustainable community.

Transforming through Digital Technology

The continuing advance of computing and mobile technology, with networks of increasing speed and capacity, the development of cloud computing and storage, the increasing number of networkconnected sensors and devices, together with significant advances in AI and machine learning is transforming entire industries and changing the way we work and the way companies and institutions are organised. Further developments in data analysis and artificial intelligence will bring new tools to many environments, allowing us to pursue opportunities and challenges we can imagine now, as well as changes we cannot anticipate but for which we must be prepared.

Transactional activities are increasingly mediated by computer systems, and the cashless society is rapidly becoming a reality. Devices and apps allow consumers to interact directly with data systems with little human intervention. Developments in machine learning will further accelerate this trend, and data analysis and artificial intelligence will bring new tools to many work environments. The nature of work is undergoing a revolution.

UCD is already at the forefront of significant contributions in AI, data science and cybersecurity. We are widely recognized for our innovative and impactful work at the forefront of the field of digital culture, and we are pioneering new interdisciplinary approaches to digitally record and analyse our past, and to better understand our present and to shape and develop our future using digital technologies.

We will continue to contribute to the transformations made possible by digital technology, and will realise these possibilities in our own community; in our research, teaching and learning; and in our operations and decisionmaking. We will integrate our digital campus with our physical campus to provide a welcome, modern, and intellectually stimulating environment. We will embed digital technology to ask new questions, to discover new knowledge, and to analyse what we know afresh. We will also embed digital technology in our teaching and learning, to work together, to deliver services, and to monitor and understand our activities and impact as an institution. We will search for, discover, and introduce new ways to advance the digital literacy of our students and will provide opportunities for all members of our university community to understand and make use of the digital technologies relevant to their areas.

The continuing advance of computing and mobile technology, with networks of increasing speed and capacity, the development of cloud computing and storage, the increasing number of networkconnected sensors and devices, together with significant advances in AI and machine learning is transforming entire industries and changing the way we work and the way companies and institutions are organised. Further developments in data analysis and artificial intelligence will bring new tools to many environments, allowing us to pursue opportunities and challenges we can imagine now, as well as changes we cannot anticipate but for which we must be prepared.

Transactional activities are increasingly mediated by computer systems, and the cashless society is rapidly becoming a reality. Devices and apps allow consumers to interact directly with data systems with little human intervention. Developments in machine learning will further accelerate this trend, and data analysis and artificial intelligence will bring new tools to many work environments. The nature of work is undergoing a revolution.

UCD is already at the forefront of significant contributions in AI, data science and cybersecurity. We are widely recognized for our innovative and impactful work at the forefront of the field of digital culture, and we are pioneering new interdisciplinary approaches to digitally record and analyse our past, and to better understand our present and to shape and develop our future using digital technologies.

We will continue to contribute to the transformations made possible by digital technology, and will realise these possibilities in our own community; in our research, teaching and learning; and in our operations and decisionmaking. We will integrate our digital campus with our physical campus to provide a welcome, modern, and intellectually stimulating environment. We will embed digital technology to ask new questions, to discover new knowledge, and to analyse what we know afresh. We will also embed digital technology in our teaching and learning, to work together, to deliver services, and to monitor and understand our activities and impact as an institution. We will search for, discover, and introduce new ways to advance the digital literacy of our students and will provide opportunities for all members of our university community to understand and make use of the digital technologies relevant to their areas.

Building a Healthy World

The health of all living things on Earth is intimately connected through the biosphere.

From microbes living in soil through to human beings, the food chain and the environment connects all living things. Nevertheless, many advances in human, animal and plant health occur on the microorganism or cellular level, and personalised healthcare based on bioinformatics is developing quickly. While great strides have been made in treating communicable diseases, the incidence of non-communicable diseases is increasing dramatically, particularly in the developed world. Health must therefore be considered at multiple levels.

UCD is the only Irish university which brings together human and animal health sciences, agriculture and food sciences, and environmental and social sciences. We have extensive research and teaching in food production and nutrition and health, together with expertise in personalised medicine, life course and human aging. We are therefore uniquely positioned to address the education and research synergies between the sciences of human, animal and environmental health.

We will advance the understanding of human, animal and environmental health and wellbeing for the benefit of society, from the cellular level to the population level, and from the individual level to the biosphere as a whole, recognising the interconnectivity between all living things and utilising the One Health concept. We will seek sustainable and ethical interventions of all types which will contribute to health and wellbeing of individuals, populations and the environment. Novel interdisciplinary teaching and research collaborations will be promoted to address important aspects of health and wellbeing for humans, animals and the global ecosystem. We will develop and support programmes to promote good health, to prevent disease and ill health, and to treat medical conditions.

We will make health and wellbeing programmes available to all members of the UCD university community, building on the Healthy UCD initiative. We will position UCD as a model for a healthy society, seeking to educate all members of our community in the fundamentals of healthy living and in the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle.

The health of all living things on Earth is intimately connected through the biosphere.

From microbes living in soil through to human beings, the food chain and the environment connects all living things. Nevertheless, many advances in human, animal and plant health occur on the microorganism or cellular level, and personalised healthcare based on bioinformatics is developing quickly. While great strides have been made in treating communicable diseases, the incidence of non-communicable diseases is increasing dramatically, particularly in the developed world. Health must therefore be considered at multiple levels.

UCD is the only Irish university which brings together human and animal health sciences, agriculture and food sciences, and environmental and social sciences. We have extensive research and teaching in food production and nutrition and health, together with expertise in personalised medicine, life course and human aging. We are therefore uniquely positioned to address the education and research synergies between the sciences of human, animal and environmental health.

We will advance the understanding of human, animal and environmental health and wellbeing for the benefit of society, from the cellular level to the population level, and from the individual level to the biosphere as a whole, recognising the interconnectivity between all living things and utilising the One Health concept. We will seek sustainable and ethical interventions of all types which will contribute to health and wellbeing of individuals, populations and the environment. Novel interdisciplinary teaching and research collaborations will be promoted to address important aspects of health and wellbeing for humans, animals and the global ecosystem. We will develop and support programmes to promote good health, to prevent disease and ill health, and to treat medical conditions.

We will make health and wellbeing programmes available to all members of the UCD university community, building on the Healthy UCD initiative. We will position UCD as a model for a healthy society, seeking to educate all members of our community in the fundamentals of healthy living and in the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle.

Empowering Humanity

Understanding what shapes human thinking and motivates behavioural change holds the key to successfully addressing the societal challenges represented in our first three strategic themes, and to empower all members of our University community to attain their full potential in our present and future societies. This understanding will also contribute to overcoming emerging societal issues such as mental health challenges, tribalism and isolationism, and rejection of scientific and expert knowledge.

Such societal challenges can only be overcome by changing behaviour. Changing behaviour is challenging, and long-lasting change will only come about by achieving behavioural change at population level. We will rise to this challenge by leveraging the breadth and depth of expertise across the university to enhance our understanding of the social, cultural and economic factors influencing healthy, sustainable human behaviour. We will also continue building a holistic understanding of the behaviour and interaction of individuals in societies, organisations and cultures, and an understanding of humanity in a broader sense.

Digital technology is increasing the number of people working in areas of creativity, strategic and critical thinking, problem solving, teamworking and communication, and these interpersonal skills are therefore increasingly important in employment and leadership contexts. With the reduction of repetitive routine work and the increased availability of every kind of distraction, intrapersonal skills of selfmanagement and self-control are also becoming more and more important.

Globalisation of society is bringing people from different countries and regions together on a scale never experienced before, while recognition of the value of diversity and inclusivity at a national level is bringing together people from different social groups. Industry is increasingly multi-national and supply chains crisscross the world. Skills of working across cultures, including language skills, are therefore increasingly important to success, understanding and problem-solving. As Ireland’s Global University, with an unrivalled diversity in our student population, we are uniquely positioned in the country to advance this agenda.

We will increase our research into understanding human behaviour in this evolving context, and we will provide every member of our university community with opportunities to develop an understanding of human behaviour and thinking, and to develop the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills needed to live and work successfully in a world which is transforming and increasingly global.

Understanding what shapes human thinking and motivates behavioural change holds the key to successfully addressing the societal challenges represented in our first three strategic themes, and to empower all members of our University community to attain their full potential in our present and future societies. This understanding will also contribute to overcoming emerging societal issues such as mental health challenges, tribalism and isolationism, and rejection of scientific and expert knowledge.

Such societal challenges can only be overcome by changing behaviour. Changing behaviour is challenging, and long-lasting change will only come about by achieving behavioural change at population level. We will rise to this challenge by leveraging the breadth and depth of expertise across the university to enhance our understanding of the social, cultural and economic factors influencing healthy, sustainable human behaviour. We will also continue building a holistic understanding of the behaviour and interaction of individuals in societies, organisations and cultures, and an understanding of humanity in a broader sense.

Digital technology is increasing the number of people working in areas of creativity, strategic and critical thinking, problem solving, teamworking and communication, and these interpersonal skills are therefore increasingly important in employment and leadership contexts. With the reduction of repetitive routine work and the increased availability of every kind of distraction, intrapersonal skills of selfmanagement and self-control are also becoming more and more important.

Globalisation of society is bringing people from different countries and regions together on a scale never experienced before, while recognition of the value of diversity and inclusivity at a national level is bringing together people from different social groups. Industry is increasingly multi-national and supply chains crisscross the world. Skills of working across cultures, including language skills, are therefore increasingly important to success, understanding and problem-solving. As Ireland’s Global University, with an unrivalled diversity in our student population, we are uniquely positioned in the country to advance this agenda.

We will increase our research into understanding human behaviour in this evolving context, and we will provide every member of our university community with opportunities to develop an understanding of human behaviour and thinking, and to develop the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills needed to live and work successfully in a world which is transforming and increasingly global.

Our Core Objectives

CORE OBJECTIVE 1

Increase the quality, quantity and impact of our research, scholarship and innovation.

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CORE OBJECTIVE 2

Provide an inclusive educational experience that defines international best practice and prepares our graduates to thrive in present and future societies.

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CORE OBJECTIVE 3

Continue to build our engagement locally, nationally and internationally.

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CORE OBJECTIVE 4

Attract, retain and develop an excellent and diverse cohort of students, faculty and staff.

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Our Enablers

Recruit additional excellent faculty members.
Increase our student population, enhancing quality and diversity.
Build world-class academic facilities and student amenities.
Implement advanced systems and services to support our operations.
Develop our faculty and staff.
Generate additional non-exchequer income.