Often cited as one of the best universities in Ireland, the majestic campus of the University College Cork is home to 21,000 students.
● UCC as a public university has a clear focus on societal impact. It has established a Civic and Community Engagement initiative that focuses on initiating community based research and learning, staff and student volunteering and community partnerships. In addition UCC has a strong Adult and Continuing Education programme, and is a lead partner in the UNESCO Learning Cities initiative.
● UCC is the home of two of Ireland’s leading engaged research institutes, ISS21 and the Environmental Research Institute. The Glucksman Gallery is an international leader in promoting inclusion and diversity through the arts. The EDI programme is a university wide effort to become an inclusive, equal and diverse campus. UCC was the first place winner of the international MacJannet Prize from the Talloires Network for its exemplary work on becoming a Sanctuary University that welcomes refugees and asylum seekers.
● Historically developed as a harbour city, bringing various harbour-related industries such as Ford and Dunlop. But economic difficulties during the 1970s and 1980s resulted in the closure of many of the city’s traditional industries, including both Ford and Dunlop in the early 1980’s creating huge unemployment.
● Today Cork is host to nine of the top ten pharmaceutical manufacturers who base themselves here due to the ready availability of highly skilled and talented work force and the possibility of innovation in close partnership with University College Cork.
● The city faces many challenges including biodiversity and the flooding arising from the climate crisis, pervasive inequality in different communities, the integration of refugees and asylum seekers and transportation infrastructure.
University College Cork participates in UNIC to further drive its agenda of inclusion and to develop its strengths in areas where it already has a track record and to partner with those who bring additional and complementary strengths to the University. UNIC provides an opportunity to join with other partners universities to have a stronger voice relating to informing European policy and funding relating to all aspects of relevance to an inclusive and wholly embracing learning experience. Participating in UNIC, with Cork City as a partner and partners in similar post-industrial cities forms the basis of research, teaching, learning and mobility partnerships upon which the European University of Post-Industrial Cities to which UCC is wholly committed can be established. The strategic added value for University College Cork participating in UNIC, is deeply aligned with the UCC Strategic Plan 2017-2022 and Academic Strategy (2018-2022):
● The importance of the development within UNIC of creating learning opportunities for all students is stated in the National Skills Strategy 2025, the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 and the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, to enable the development of transferable skills, enhance employability and nurture an interdisciplinary mind-set.
● Addressing gender inequality in higher education is a top priority for UCC. This is outlined in the Higher Education Authority (HEA) National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions (Report of the Expert Group, 2016).
● Renewed growth in the Irish economy is seeing a continued emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercializing research, as documented in the Irish Government’s Innovation 2020, Ireland’s Strategy for Research and Development, Science and Technology and the Action Plan for Jobs 2017. The joint knowledge and expertise within UNIC will add value to the quality, international character and competitiveness of the Irish economy.
● There is a shift to technology-facilitated distance and time-flexible learning and learner-centred approaches. UNIC offers UCC an excellent opportunity to further develop, and to learn from other partners with regard to these topics.
Lifelong and life-wide learning and continuing professional development are demanded by employers and employees in supporting flexible career paths. This is fundamental to the learning objectives of the UNIC Alliance.
UCC has the following relevant key aims and activities relevant to the future activities of the alliance (all in line with UCC’s key strategic aim outlined in its UCC Strategic Plan 2017-2022 to deliver an innovative academic mission):
● To implement within UNIC an academic strategy to deliver an outstanding, student-centred teaching and learning experience with a renewed, responsive, research-led curriculum at its core. Internationalization is key in this academic strategy
● To be a leading European University for research, discovery, innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization with clear societal impact
● To create value for the UNIC community through an international outlook and a capacity for informed and creative engagement on local, national and European issues
● Attract, develop, support and retain staff of the highest quality and thereby ensure a diverse staff all of whom are enabled to reach their full potential and to realise an optimal contribution to the further development of the UNIC Alliance.
● Strengthen its infrastructure and resource base and to incorporate this infrastructure and resource base within the UNIC European University to provide a solid, sustainable basis for the future.
● Cork will pay extra attention within UNIC to the organizational culture which promotes internationalization. The degree programs include well-structured placement opportunities that support exchange studies or training periods abroad. International Master’s programs are more thoroughly integrated with other Master’s programs, and thus give more options for international careers to all graduates. Tuition fees for students outside the EU and EEA countries will be transparent and the grant system will be built to be encouraging.
● UCC will embrace open inquiry and exploratory risk across and between the entire breadth of disciplines of sciences, health, social sciences, law, business and the humanities; prioritise teaching and learning for students in an environment that provides space for thought for staff and students (who learn at their own pace and chart their own path); strengthen the local voice on global challenges; and create an infrastructural and capital plan to deliver on the academic mission through provision of spaces and staff that facilitate inter-disciplinarily.
UCC sees the above activities and aims as being very much aligned with the objectives of the European University of Post Industrial Cities.