Our Core Objectives

In order to achieve our vision for 2024 we have set four core objectives which we will pursue during the period 2020-2024. Our four strategic themes will be embraced in each of these core objectives. For each key objective we have defined key performance indicators (KPIs) and targets for those KPIs, so that we can track our progress against the objectives.

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

Excellent research, scholarship and innovation are at the heart of University College Dublin, spanning all our disciplines and ranging from deep fundamental investigations to leading-edge applications.

Our commitment to the development and delivery of new knowledge and new solutions is particularly important at this time, as the environment and society is increasingly disrupted by technology.  We will continue to address important questions and deliver impact through our findings, with particular emphasis on our strategic themes.

Research, scholarship and innovation have a vital role to play in talent development, and we want all who conduct, support or encounter research in UCD to flourish.  We will strengthen and structure the benefits that undergraduate students gain from their education in a research-intensive environment.  Postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers will experience enhanced supports for career development. We will further develop our training programmes for faculty, research staff and research support staff, based on best international practice, to support them in realising their ambitions in UCD.

Excellence in research will remain central to our faculty recruitment, and our new recruitment schemes will support the growth in our base of outstanding research faculty.  We will grow our capacity within the area of our strategic themes, and we will ensure that our research engages and influences each UCD student and influences our behaviour as an organisation.

Partnerships are key to our ability to deliver impact through our research, scholarship and innovation.  We will build strong partnerships with leading universities and other research bodies, with industry and with social and community organisations, and manage these partnerships in a holistic manner.  A two-way conversation engaging the public will bring external insights into our research and brings our research to the public in lively and stimulating ways.  We will continue to make the case for strong public support of research, based on clear and compelling articulation of the value and impact of research.

Our research intensity will be manifested in all aspects of our operations, and we will be a trusted and valued source of expertise.  Our structures in support of research and innovation will be informed by best international practice.  We will enhance the competitiveness of UCD researchers in securing research funding, and in commercialising their research outputs where appropriate.  Our programmes for capturing and conveying research impact will be developed further.  We will grow our internal funding schemes in support of research, in particular excellent research facing funding gaps in the external environment.  Through developing our capability in research analytics, research performance expectations will be set and performance will be measured.

We will promote awareness of UCD research around the world, through our publications, through our engagement with the media, and through our participation in and hosting of international conferences and meetings. We will also promote the mobility of our researchers and the hosting of researchers from partner organisations.

Throughout all our research, scholarship and innovation, we will reflect our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and will adhere to the highest standards of integrity, dignity and respect.

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

Our students build their ability to participate in and contribute to society by studying within an academic community and purpose-built learning environment, combining traditional research methods, specialist skills, and new technologies to develop deep subject knowledge. UCD students learn at the boundaries of human knowledge and observe the frontier of what is not yet discovered by undertaking their learning in a research-intensive environment. We equip our students to explore that frontier by developing and embedding advanced teaching and learning practices, assessment methods, and sophisticated technologies in the education we offer.

We are a global university with a diverse community, and consequently the UCD student experience exposes students to new perspectives, deepens their understanding and refines their ideas.  By providing students with opportunities to study for periods abroad and to immerse themselves in other cultures, we enable them to develop the communication and language skills necessary to embrace opportunities and meet future challenges. By providing more opportunities to learn outside the classroom and to research in industrial and professional environments through internships and work placements, volunteering opportunities, and cocurricular activities we position students to learn and demonstrate their learning in new settings. Through this mainstreaming approach – (“University for All”) we recognise, promote and value diversity, foster the spirit of inclusion, appreciate the breadth of talent, experience and contribution of all students, and strive to remove the barriers to access, participation and success.

We will continue to value both depth and breadth of learning and the diverse traditions of different disciplines. This will be achieved by building innovative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary programmes on the foundations of strong subjects and disciplines, and by using the flexibility of our curriculum to enable students to specialise at an advanced level within a given area of study or to explore more broadly a range of different subjects. We will ensure that assessment is varied, that it reliably measures the expected learning outcomes, and that all students receive the feedback necessary to continue learning from assessment activities.

Students will be challenged to encounter the questions raised by a world undergoing rapid digital transformation and facing fundamental questions of sustainability, equipping them to lead in responding to these changes and building a healthy and sustainable world. We will also provide opportunities to develop the interpersonal, intercultural, and life skills necessary for flourishing in an increasingly global and digital society. Through the development of our faculty and staff, and through purpose-built modules and specialisms, we will ensure that our four strategic themes permeate the educational experience of each student. In this way our graduates will be prepared to take their place in present and future societies.

Students will be provided with access to the supports they need, at the point they are needed and in the most accessible form to develop the attributes required to make the most of their university experience. By fostering an institutional culture that promotes inclusiveness, excellent quality and constant improvement and that values teaching and research equally – embedding institutional mechanisms that facilitate, recognise, and reward excellent teaching – we will provide structures that enable and promote educational enhancement and student success.

In promoting a culture of integrity and excellence amongst our students, the University will continue to model probity and quality as an institution. We will continue to monitor the experience of our students and the outcomes for our graduates, and to seek and react to their feedback. New ways to collect, analyse, and present this data to best inform institutional decision-making and enhance the quality of the education and student experience will be developed.

3. Continue to build our engagement locally, nationally and internationally.

To fulfil our mission of contributing to the flourishing of Ireland and the world, we will continue to build our engagement at all levels. This engagement is important both for the impact we have outside the university, but also in ensuring that our students’ learning is informed by deep engagement with local and global society, and our research is both informed by and relevant to wider society. Over the period of this strategy we will deepen this engagement.

We will create a truly global experience for our UCD community, ensuring global character is embedded in all aspects of institutional activity. Opportunities will be provided for staff and students to avail of mobility initiatives, both virtually and physically. This will support the development of intercultural competencies and enhance capacity to actively contribute in a globally focused world.  Through our activities we will encourage cultural curiosity and sensitivity in our community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners.

We have developed a robust framework to identify, develop and manage global partnerships, and through this framework we will select a discrete number of UCD priority partners who will share our ambition to deliver impact on UCD’s four strategic themes. We will develop new collaborative links and pursue opportunities in transnational education to support and expand our global community of learners.

UCD will continue its successful programme of building holistic major strategic partnerships with industry and other organisations, obtaining mutual benefit through engaging in structured way. We will consolidate our existing major partnerships and build further partnerships where there is mutual interest, enabling us to maximise our impact on society, and augmenting our student experience and researcher engagement. We will link the subject knowledge and expertise of our faculty to the training and development needs of our partners in industry, public service, and in community organisations with customised educational offerings.

Our alumni, who are in almost every nation of the world, are an important part of our UCD community. Over the term of this strategy, we will further connect with, inform, empower and mobilise our alumni to become involved in support of the wider University, so that they actively contribute to our growth and development, whilst also ensuring they find value and relevance in UCD. We will strengthen the links of our University community by matching the ambition of our students with the experience of our alumni by extending our mentorship programmes. We will implement global best practices in our alumni relations programmes in volunteer management, tailored events, digital communication and outreach, fundraising opportunities, and by growing the number of alumni chapter networks globally. By engaging students before they join the alumni community in meaningful ways, we will grow a valuable exchange between alumni and students which will lead to more engaged new alumni and help them with their future success.

We will build on our long and proud tradition of staff and students contributing to the needs of society, nationally and internationally. We will leverage our Employee Volunteering Policy, that allows employees to allocate work time to engage in volunteering, increasing the number staff who engage with our community in this way. We will further develop our UCD Community Charity Partner model, through which the University provides additional support to a specific charity. Through the UCD in the Community initiative, we will continue to connect UCD employees and students with the wider community for mutual benefit, and in exchange, empowering the UCD community as socially aware, global citizens. We will grow the UCD Advantage co-curricular awards scheme and ensure it is available to all students.  We will expand service-based learning and co-curricular learning opportunities, and/or to put their skills and expertise to use in community-based projects.

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

Excellent performance requires excellent people working in a supportive environment, and diversity, in all its forms, cultivates the development of ideas and often challenges the status quo. We will continue to embed the UCD values in our community, ensuring that UCD is an attractive place to work, study and live. We will employ these values in our recruitment practices for both students and employees, increasing the diversity of both cohorts, while extending opportunities to participate and retaining a high bar for individual excellence. We will provide tailored educational offerings to support lifelong learning for a diverse audience, and continue to expand our recruitment of international students, along with outreach to under-represented groups, to further enhance the diversity of the student cohort

Central to our mission and vision is the building up of a supportive and inclusive community of students, faculty and staff, alumni and diaspora. We will work together to make UCD an attractive, friendly and accessible environment, ensuring both the physical and digital campus is welcoming, state of the art, and safe, and that services are responsive to the needs of all those who use them.

We will raise awareness and promote greater understanding of and engagement with equality, diversity and inclusion issues across our University community through implementing and keeping under review our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy and Strategy. We will continue the implementation of the Institutional Gender Equality Action Plan, and work towards the achievement of an institutional Silver Athena Swan Award before the completion of this strategy. Continued actions to eliminate gender inequality will result in a growing proportion of women in senior academic and administrative positions.  We will continue to promote a culture of dignity and respect and wellbeing for all, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.

We will increase the number of students we retain through to graduation by putting in place a comprehensive suite of student support measures and ensuring that our student services are world-class. To support the success of all our students, we will integrate student services to ensure a consistent level of high-quality student support regardless of subject or discipline, location or mode of study, or whether students are being taught or undertaking research. These supports will be bolstered by advanced systems using student data to target and personalise timely interventions. Building on the specialised supports we provide for students from communities experiencing disadvantage, students with disabilities, mature students, refugees and asylum seekers, we will also develop new supports for other communities where we identify a need.