DCU incorporation to boost education training and research in Ireland

23 Nov 2016

DCU president Brian MacCraith and his wife Catherine speaking to Enda Kenny, TD, at the incorporation event in the Helix. Image: Nick Bradshaw

DCU’s incorporation establishes Ireland’s first faculty of education and will promote research, inclusion and STEM education in Ireland. Claire O’Connell reports.

Ní neart go cur le chéile – there is no strength without unity – and Dublin City University (DCU) is set to strengthen education training and research in Ireland thanks to its recent incorporation.

The start of October 2016 saw the completion of the four-year incorporation process, whereby St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra; Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education were integrated into the university.

The development heralds “a new era for education in Ireland”, according to DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith, who spoke last night (22 November) at a celebratory event in the Helix.

Inspirefest 2017

Education expertise

Incorporation has resulted in the establishment of the first faculty of education in an Irish university, noted MacCraith. The DCU Institute of Education will prepare teachers and educators at every level, from early childhood through primary and second level onto higher and further education.

DCU has already established the National Institute of Digital Learning (NIDL) and CARPE, a research centre in assessment for education, and last night, MacCraith announced the new Desmond Chair in Early Childhood Education.

Research-rich environment

MacCraith – who chaired a review to be launched tomorrow (24 November) on STEM education in Ireland – noted that teachers in DCU will be educated in a research-intensive environment.

“This feature is highly significant,” he said, citing areas of research such as assessment, digital learning, STEM education and sustainable development.

“The consequence of such a research-rich environment is that both student teachers and practising teachers will benefit from knowledge at the cutting edge of their discipline and bring that with them to their respective schools.”

Overall, the move is about developing a culture of progressive pluralism, said MacCraith. “This historic initiative will provide a unique opportunity to prepare excellent teachers for all the children in our society in a manner that builds on the richness of diversity, in an environment that fosters mutual respect.”

Quality and impact

Last night’s event celebrated the ‘New DCU’ with a mix of music, literature and Irish dancing, as well as keynotes from two TDs.

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, spoke about the appropriateness of joining traditions in this centenary year and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, who himself studied at St Pat’s, spoke about the impact of the new development.

“The new DCU represents the largest critical mass of education expertise on the island of Ireland and the institute is now one of Europe’s largest institutes of education,” said Kenny. “This type of scale and critical mass is key to retaining and to enhancing Ireland’s global position in education and in skills.”

Kenny described the incorporation as “duly momentous” and he emphasised the importance of investing in children’s education and encouraging them not just to learn, but also to think.

“This project is vital,” he said, adding that it would have a major impact on the quality and impact of teaching and learning in Ireland. “We want to make sure that each and every child has the opportunity to learn and achieve, an opportunity that has nothing to do with privilege and advantage.”

Dr Claire O’Connell is a scientist-turned-writer with a PhD in cell biology and a master’s in science communication