Academic Induction Programme
The Loyola Institute
It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Trinity at this, the start of your induction week.
I look forward to meeting you all personally, and to engaging with you over the year. There are, I think, some 28 of you here today, hailing from different Schools and disciplines, and at different stages in your careers. What you have in common is that this is your first introduction to Trinity – at least as staff members.
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Today is the start of a three-day induction programme, which has been carefully devised for you. I hope it answers any questions you might have and provides a good introduction to college life and the way we do things here.
This morning is a chance for me to meet you. And in our time together I’d like to give you a brief overview of Trinity, our strategic goals, and how we achieve success in academic leadership.
As it happens, this year the University is commemorating the 425th anniversary since our founding by charter in 1592. To celebrate this, we’re holding a Trinity 425 Symposium at the end of this month, looking at the history of the college through five centuries – from the late 16th to the early 21st Century.
Six historians will be speaking. And I’ll be talking myself about the College in its fifth century – that’s starting in 1992 and going up to 2092, so recent history and projecting into the future. The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar – the first Trinity graduate to achieve the office of Taoiseach – is opening the symposium.
I hope some, or all, of you will be able to attend because it’s going to be an unmissable opportunity to learn about the College: where we started from, what have been the challenges and opportunities along the way, and where we’re heading. In Trinity, there is great cohesion between our traditions and our current planning and strategies for the future.
First and foremost are our values:
The university you have joined is founded on a cohesive mission in education and research. We pledge:
You will find these three missions in our current Strategic Plan. From each mission flow three goals, and from each goal flow four actions, https://www.tcd.ie/strategy/goals/
The Plan is strongly cohesive.
The 36 actions cross all our commitments – including in interdisciplinarity, global relations, access and inclusion, creative arts, online education, and innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Plan represents a very comprehensive vision for the university, and it sets targets and parameters. We’re half way through the current 5 year Plan and we’re meeting – and indeed exceeding – our targets.
I won’t go into detail on all our commitments; you will get a sense of them this week – I note that there are sessions scheduled on the Trinity Education Project, on research development, and on global relations and innovation. The commitments are about delivering the best possible university for our staff and students - and for Dublin and Ireland, this region that we serve.
Trinity is Ireland’s leading university and it’s one of Europe’s principal research universities; in January this year we became the 23rd member of the exclusive League of European Research Universities, or LERU. And for the past two years running, we’ve been rated the number one university in Europe for educating entrepreneurs, according to evaluation by research firm, PitchBook. And we just got the news that we have top again this year – that makes for three years running.
We recognise the responsibility that comes with this: the responsibility to educate the talent, incubate the research, and produce the products and services that drive growth and discovery in Ireland, Europe, and the world.
We’re highly ambitious for our students, our staff and our region, and this ambition is clear in our plans and projections for the future.
Of course, our ambition is not without challenges. The main challenge at present comes from uncertainty over funding higher education in Ireland. You may have heard something about this.
Ireland isn’t alone. All round the world, state funding to universities is falling. In Europe, we’re moving from the 20th century system of high state support for universities to one based on non-exchequer, private funding. It’s even happening in countries like Sweden with strong traditions of state support.
Regardless of whether we academics welcome this or not, it’s happening. It’s the new reality that countries and universities have to confront.
There is consensus here in Ireland that something needs to be done, and the government is currently looking at proposals which include raising student fees or increasing exchequer sources.
In Trinity we’re not sitting around, waiting. We’re actively developing new revenue streams: for instance, licensing and spin-outs, international student fees, commercial revenue activities, philanthropy and alumni-giving.
Sixty percent of our revenue now comes from non-State sources. And next year, for the first time in the College’s 425-year history, we are launching a Philanthropic Campaign, which will get donors exciting about supporting our high impact, world-leading projects.
I mention all this to put you in the picture, and by way of saying that now, more than ever, academia is a multi-faceted career. Research and teaching remain at the core, of course. Nobody can have an academic career without excellence in these. But so much more in now needed.
Academics now hook up with industry; they launch spin-out companies, lead international research teams, advise policy-makers, manage global relations, and direct institutes. They are entrepreneurs, managers and leaders as well as thinkers and teachers.
To be an academic leader in Trinity, or any high-ranked university, you will probably need to develop a portfolio of skills, and you will certainly need to engage fully with the institution in all its workings.
We’re delighted and honoured that you have chosen to come to Trinity. It’s wonderful for the university to be benefitting from your expertise and commitment. You will contribute hugely to growing our research and refreshing our educational approach.
We want you to get the most out of your time here. This is a challenging but also a hugely exciting time to be in academia. The changes in higher education in the past two decades are revolutionary – I think we can use that word – in terms of technological advances, applying and commercialising research, extending education opportunities including through online, and forging international collaborations.
We are re-making and re-thinking the way that universities are funded and organised, the way that we teach and research. You are part of this revolution.
Together we have to decide what’s best for the university and how best to achieve it. Some of the way is clearly signposted. Other paths will emerge as we surmount challenges and discover opportunities.
I thank you again for coming here and strengthening this university. For all of you in the aduience I have a copy of Trinity 425 – I hope you find it inspiring.
I wish you the very best and I look forward to meeting you all personally and hearing about your research.
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