Dublin City University has been named the 2010 Sunday Times University of the Year. This is the second time in the eight-year history of the Sunday Times University Guide that DCU has received the award; the first was in 2004.
The Sunday Times cited the university's 48% increase in research income last year, the success of its 20-year old Access programme and strong student satisfaction as just three of the reasons for this year's award.
The decision was also strongly influenced by an international independent quality review carried out by the Irish University Quality Board which found that DCU 'can fairly claim to be at the cutting edge in terms of academic quality improvement'.
Speaking on the award, DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith, said 'we are delighted that the university's achievements have been recognised through this award. DCU, as one of Ireland's youngest universities, has clearly established a strong reputation for the quality of its academic teaching and its cutting edge research activity, its holistic approach to the student experience, and its far-sighted policies on social inclusion. Moving on into the next phase, the
university will continue to develop its policy of engagement through strong industry-academic partnerships, which include collaborations in research projects and its INTRA work placements.
'We will continue to emphasise research initiatives whose results will translate into societal benefits in the areas of health, the environment, energy needs and multi-culturalism. One example is DCU's current involvement as the Irish partner in a €20m Europe-wide project, 'Smart Power Management for Home and Health', which aims to improve electricity efficiency in the home and the workplace by reducing CO2 emissions in the generation of electricity. Another example is DCU's Centre for Image Processing and Analysis (CIPA) which has developed an image-based medical diagnostic device which will assist in the early detection and treatment of colon cancer.
'DCU has undertaken a number of new initiatives over the last year to improve the student experience for first year students. These supports enable DCU students, and subsequently graduates, to reach their full potential as citizens in society,' he said.
Speaking on the achievements of DCU's Access programme, Orla Conlan, Access Officer, said, 'we have worked with enthusiasm and commitment since 1990 to encourage non-traditional students to apply for and also to complete third-level education. We are delighted not just by the increase in Access student numbers, but by the number who achieve first
class honours. This figure now equals that of the general undergraduate population, which supports our long-held belief that they have the same potential as students who enter through traditional routes. In addition to these successes, 57% of our Access graduates undertake further study, and of the remainder, 98% are successful in gaining employment.'
DCU's Access programme, which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, is one of the largest Access programmes of its kind in the country, with over 440 students from all over Ireland registered on its undergraduate programmes. The Access service works with over 6,000 primary and secondary school students in a range of pre-entry programmes. Its aim is to encourage students, who have no family tradition of going on to third-level education, to consider going to university as an option. The university intends expanding its Access intake to 25% of student intake in 2011.
In line with the university's commitment to introduce innovative degree programmes which are relevant to the needs of Irish society, DCU has introduced three new degree programmes this year, including a BSc in Aviation Management with Pilot Studies. This programme has been designed for those who are considering entering the aviation industry, either as commercial a pilot or as a business professional, and will provide a through grounding in all aspects of the airline business
including tourism, logistics and international trade. The course fulfils the industry's need for personnel with an appreciation of the diverse activities of a complex and transnational industry.
This September, students will also enrol for the first time on the new BSc in Psychology and BA in International Business and Languages for non-native English speakers only.
DCU's other achievements were named as winning Sports Centre of the Year in 2009 and the announcement of a €1m seed venture fund for early stage technology start-up companies.