‘DCU is proud to be known as an inclusive university rather than an exclusive university’

4 Feb 2019

Image: Luke Maxwell/Silicon Republic

DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith looks back on a successful year for the university and its continued diversity and inclusion agenda for 2019.

After a “fantastic year” for Dublin City University (DCU), university president Prof Brian MacCraith is looking into the new year with a focus on diversity, inclusion and future-proofed STEM education.

“Diversity and inclusion is something that DCU stands for. It’s a central pillar in in our new strategic plan, ‘Talent, Discovery and Transformation’,” said MacCraith.

Last year, DCU launched a Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion and became the world’s first university to be designated autism-friendly. And MacCraith said this is just the beginning.

“More broadly, it’s going to show up in many different ways in 2019. For example, we have a strong focus on widening participation in general in the university in terms of the nature of students coming in here. We’ve a range of funding coming in from the HEA and other sources that will allow us to address that widening participation agenda,” he explained.

“We really want the population of students in the university to reflect a very diverse Ireland and for all students to recognise that DCU is proud to be known as an inclusive university rather than an exclusive university.”

Also part of DCU’s strategic plan is curriculum reform, particularly for STEM graduates. MacCraith explained how there’s now “a very interesting balance” emerging between the rapidly evolving technical skills required of graduates, and softer skills.

“All the major employers are saying to us that they don’t want to see graduates emerging that do not know and appreciate the power of artificial intelligence, data analytics, data science, internet of things, and so on. So that’s a challenge that we’re really embracing.”

Architectural visualisation of a three-storey corner building on DCU’s campus with curved glass walls.

Artist’s impression of the Future-Tech facility being built at DCU. Image: Dunes Visuals/DCU

DCU is growing at pace. MacCraith cited more than 50pc growth over the past five years to now more than 17,000 students across three campuses in north Dublin.

In September, the Government committed €24m to a new 10,000 sq m Future-Tech building at DCU, which will accommodate more than 3,000 additional STEM students with state-of-the-art facilities.

This €50m project, said MacCraith, is “the single biggest development in higher education in Ireland in terms of infrastructure for students”.

Another 2018 highlight noted by MacCraith was the launch of Talent Garden Dublin on the DCU Alpha campus.

“Talent Garden is a node of the largest digital innovation co-working space network in Europe,” explained MacCraith. “By mid-2019 they will have over 50 companies, probably over 500 people, engaging with Talent Garden. So, why are they there for us? Well, really, we want to leverage that opportunity.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.