New Directions in Teaching, Learning and research with launch of University of Limerick Strategic Plan 2011 - 2015
The President of the University of Limerick, Professor Don Barry today launched the new Strategic Plan 2011 - 2015 for the University entitled 'Pioneering and Connected'.
The plan commits to forging new ways of teaching and learning for students as well as seeking innovations in research that will attract resources while advancing the economic, educational and social development of the Shannon Region and the country.
The plan consists of four clear goals; providing students with an outstanding and distinctive student experience; further enhancing the research impact of the University; developing a stronger international focus in all areas of UL activity and continuing UL's contribution to the economic, educational, social and cultural life of the Shannon Region and Ireland in general.
The University of Limerick has welcomed the Hunt Report recommendation that investment in research and development in Ireland be increased and that structures be put in place to facilitate the speedy commercialisation of Intellectual Property from all higher education institutions.
One of the key goals of the University in the next five years will be accelerating the application of basic research outputs to benefit the economy and society. UL's focus on translational research means that its research outputs are being recognised for their relevance, economically, socially and globally. There is already an emerging evidence base in support of this new approach to research by the University. In the last year alone UL has signed over 100 formal agreements with industrial partners. Researchers submitted 27 invention disclosures which resulted in 9 new patent applications, while six agreements to commercialise UL inventions were signed with external companies. This focus on commercialisation has yielded five promising spin-off companies in recent years involving a combined investment in excess of €60 million and providing high-value jobs within the Shannon Region.
"We place a premium on the independent pursuit of knowledge and, accordingly, we value and support the research efforts of all members of the campus community. At the same time we recognize that research areas must be prioritized given the need to target scarce resources for maximum effect. Our research ethos creates a focus on convergent translational research. Convergence refers to the synergistic combination of different disciplines through which fertile new fields of knowledge emerge. Translational research transcends the traditional dichotomy between basic research outputs to benefit the economy and society." said Professor Don Barry, UL President.
One of the actions the University is committed to undertaking is to sharpen its international focus across the full spectrum of UL's activities. This will include the action of increasing the intake of international undergraduate and postgraduate students by 50 %.
"We seek to be judged by the highest international standards and recognise that we must be globally connected to fully realise our ambitions. A sharpened international focus will enable us to recruit the best students, both at home and abroad. Our students' experiences will be enriched by increased exposure to diverse cultures and learning opportunities, and our capacity to foster the lifelong learning skills they will need in a globalised working environment will be enhanced," said Professor Barry.
The University will also re-focus attention on non-traditional student cohorts, including mature students, part-time and distance learning students. This will facilitate the retraining and up-skilling that will be required to reinvigorate the workforce and adapt to opportunities in the smart economy.
In its Strategic Plan UL has once again highlighted 'an outstanding student experience' as one of the University's primary functions. This is being achieved by providing a uniquely attractive student-centred learning environment that builds on current excellence across all faculties and ensures that the highest quality standards are reached on all programmes.
"Our fundamental obligation to our students is to provide them with an outstanding and distinctive student experience. We seek to educate students to become knowledgeable, skilled and confident graduates who are prepared for leadership positions in society, who are imbued with strong ethical, cultural and community-focused values and who will exhibit critical thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship throughout their careers," continued Professor Barry.
The optimisation of the Student Experience will be achieved by a range of actions, including:
Broadening and deepening the curriculum
Building greater links between teaching and research
Facilitating mature learners and
Providing more flexible paths to learning.
Contribution to the Community
As part of the 'Pioneering and Connected' plan, Professor Don Barry commits to the further development of the University's regional strengths and addressing regional needs in line with national priorities.
"A strong and enduring sense of connection to our communities is a defining feature of the University of Limerick. We take pride in being an open institution that welcomes a broad cross-section of visitors: academics, industrialists, community leaders and those who wish to enjoy our wonderful campus, our cultural amenities and art collections and our sports facilities. We realise that we have a responsibility to promote economic, educational, social and cultural development in Ireland, particularly in the Shannon Region, and we recognise the mutual benefit that flows from engagement between the Shannon Region and the University," concluded Professor Barry.