Posted tagged ‘University of Limerick’

University anniversary

January 13, 2011

Exactly 22 years ago today, on January 13 1989, the Irish government then led by Charles Haughey announced the establishment of Dublin City University and the University of Limerick. At the time both institutions were designated as ‘National Institutes of Higher Education’.

DCU and the University of Limerick had a massive influence on how universities operate. Unlike the established universities at the time, they had close links with industry, focused on particular areas of study and research, and allowed students to gather experience through work placements. Many of their innovations have now become standard across the sector. As young universities, they have had remarkable success in gaining international recognition. DCU became by far the youngest university to enter the global top 300 league table in 2006.

The presidents of the two universities at the time were Danny O’Hare (DCU) and Ed Walsh (Limerick). They should still be proud of their legacy.


Watering down Limerick

March 11, 2010

The University of Limerick has, and has had, many famous academics on its staff, but surely none more so than Persse McGarrigle, a noted expert on poet T.S. Eliot. Ah wait, I might not be able to count him, as he is a fictional character – he was one of the main characters in the wonderful novel by David Lodge, Small World. If you haven’t read it, you must do so – it holds the key to understanding academic life.

Lodge published the novel in 1984, and shortly afterwards it was serialised on BBC television. At the time Limerick already had the National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE – the other NIHE was in Glasnevin in Dublin and became DCU); but it was not yet the University of Limerick, and so Lodge was able to take liberties with the name. Maybe Ed Walsh’s enterprising and innovating university when it emerged was not wholly like its fictional namesake, but nevertheless the name needs to be maintained for the sake of both.

Not, however, if Clare County Council has its way. On March 8 the Council voted unanimously to press the university to re-name itself the University of Limerick and Clare, partly in recognition of the fact that a good deal of its expanding estate is across the River Shannon in the neighbouring county. This of course is none of my business, and in any case I hold Co Clare and its inhabitants in the highest respect, but I’m afraid I am not in favour of this idea. There is research, in fact, that has found that universities called after counties or geographical regions do not do as well as those named after towns and cities (and maybe villages, if you consider Keele University). Apparently a regional name conjures up images of rural tranquility, which is great for a postcard but doesn’t convey a sense of intellectual excitement.

The University of Limerick does have important ties with Co Clare – but maybe these can be reflected in some way other than the name.

Small is ugly?

February 19, 2010

The announcement of the strategic partnership between NUI Galways and the University of Limerick was made in the presence of the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, and senior government ministers. The following in the report by the Irish Times caught my eye:

‘He [the Taoiseach] said universities working alone were limited by their relatively small size in comparison with competitor institutions. “However, by working together they can begin to have a much bigger impact.”‘

I certainly don’t wish to detract in any way from the significance of this new partnership, but I do wish that politicians would stop talking about size as an important element in the success of a university. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that size on its own is an advantage. Harvard University, which is recognised in the league tables as the number 1 university in the world, has roughly 11,000 students, which makes it smaller than either Limerick or NUI Galway. Princeton University (also in the global top 10) has 7,500 students. And California Institute of Technology (usually know as Caltech, also in the global top 10) has 2,100 students.

On the other end of the spectrum, not one of the 100 biggest universities in the world (by any form of measurement) features in the global top 500.

The significance of this is that we must identify correctly what allows a university to score highly in global comparisons, and it isn’t size. In fact, what allows universities to lead in the rankings is very simple: resources and autonomy. The more money that universities can invest in faculty, in facilities and services, in equipment and in materials, the more likely it is that they will be key global players. And the more they can develop key strategies independently of bureaucratic control, the more effective is their use of those investments. Of course the extent to which they can strategically use their resources to maximum effect, for example by finding partners who can complement their strengths, will also make a difference, and given the extraordinary lack of resources for Irish universities even in the good times we have done very well indeed.

There are strong arguments for supporting the Galway-Limerick alliance, and I believe that their launch statement has some very exciting and entirely workable objectives. Both institutions are also committed to developing and securing collaboration with other institutions also. They have also made a strong case for the benefits they will be able to achieve from linking some of their key teams. But what will not determine their success is the combined numerical strength of their institutions.

Unless politicians understand what allows universities to be successful, they will not be able to support us in securing that aim. And if they do not understand the significance of viable resourcing in an autonomous setting, they do not understand higher education. There is still much ground to cover.

NUI Galway – University of Limerick strategic alliance

February 18, 2010

The full text of the document announcing the strategic alliance between NUI Galway and the University of Limerick can be seen here:

This document sets out the areas in which the new partnership will address in a collaborative manner, and it includes teaching, research, knowledge transfer and civic engagement. Particular areas of expertise are highlighted, these being biomedicine and biomedical devices, energy, ICT, and social development and civic engagement. Research teams will collaborate, and students will be given opportunities to take courses in the respective other institution. The two universities also envisage drawing in local institutes of technology and teacher training colleges in due course.

The document suggests that the alliance has been well prepared and that several joint projects will be initiated or developed immediately, with longer terms prospects of additional collaboration.

DCU has research collaborations with both the University of Limerick and NUI Galway, and I wish this new alliance every success.

Limerick – Galway: announcement from Limerick

February 18, 2010


I am delighted to share with you an announcement which will be made public later today. The University of Limerick and NUI Galway have entered into a Strategic Alliance across all key areas of our activity. Our two Universities are committed to working together to deliver a better service to our students, to our business and industry partners, to our region and to our various stakeholders.

Later today, An Taoiseach Mr Brian Cowen T.D. will launch the new Alliance in the company of An Tánaiste and Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment, Ms Mary Coughlan T.D., and the Minister for Education and Science, Mr Batt O?Keeffe T.D. in the RoyalIrishAcademy, Dublin.

This Alliance will make a real difference ? a difference to our students, to our faculty and staff, to our researchers, to our industrial and business partners, and a difference to the Shannon Region and the West of Ireland.

We believe that together we are stronger. In a time of unprecedented economic upheaval, we must look at alternative ways of delivering a quality service to our students. By working with NUI Galway, we will be able to protect and optimise student choices.

The Alliance will extend across all areas of our activity including teaching and learning, research, technology transfer, lifelong learning and service provision. A number of projects are set for immediate launch, including:


We are collaborating with NUI Galway in key areas of research, including:

* Biomedicine and biomedical devices

* Energy research

* ICT, including software development and semantic web research

Technology Transfer

We will promote the services of both Technology Transfer Offices as a single offering, particularly in the areas of our collaborative research.

We are also working with the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US to establish a joint Translational Research Institute. Georgia Tech is a recognised world leader in translational research and we are excited about the prospects of working with them.

Teaching and Learning

There are many collaborative projects planned in the area of teaching and learning, across all Faculties. One new development is the ?Link-to-Learn? student exchange programme which will facilitate students at either university who wish to avail of specialist opportunities at the other institution on a module or even semester basis.

Lifelong Learning

Strong links already exist between UL and NUI Galway in the area of adult and continuing education. These links will be extended as both units work together to provide programmes focused on upskilling the national workforce and meeting the needs of the newly unemployed.

Shared Services

Our two Universities will also collaborate on service provision, through a shared services model. In addition, we will use our combined buying power to collaborate in the joint procurement of goods and services to ensure maximum efficiency in our purchases.

More details of all of these projects can be found on the website from noon today:

I want to pay tribute to all at UL who have worked to make today?s announcement possible and I look forward to the benefits this strategic alliance with our colleagues in NUI Galway will bring to both our institutions and the communities we serve.


Professor Don Barry

Uachtarán / President

Oifig an Uachtaráin / Office of the President

Ollscoil Luimnigh / University of Limerick

Galway and Limerick universities form an alliance

February 16, 2010

On Thursday of this week NUI Galway and the University of Limerick will, according to the invitation to the event, launch ‘a major strategic alliance’.  The news of this proposed new partnership was made public yesterday by RTE in a report on its website and in an item on the television news. University presidents from other institutions had been alerted to this development a little while ago, but so far we do not know the exact nature of the alliance. In the RTE report it is said that the two universities want to ‘pool resources’ and develop a ‘combined strategy’ in order to create ‘centres of world class excellence’.

It is highly likely that the Irish higher education system will, over the period ahead, see a ‘clustering’ of institutional partnerships. First of these was the TCD-UCD ‘Innovation Alliance’ last year, and it is known that other inter-institutional talks (also including DCU) are under way. What is perhaps less clear is how the sector as a whole will operate, and the extent to which sector-wide initiatives can be pursued alongside the plans of specific strategic partnerships.

I look forward to hearing more about the NUI Galway/Limerick plan to be launched on Thursday, and I wish them well.