Alumni relations in Ireland are ahead of international norm

The quality of Alumni relations in Irish universities came under scrutiny at a summit held at Iveagh House last week.

Representatives from most of Ireland’s third level institutions and delegates from a number of fee-paying secondary schools assembled at the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade earlier this month to discuss the current state of university-alumni relations in Ireland. This conference was organised by tech firm KonnectAgain and was hosted by the government.

KonnectAgain is a start-up company that was founded by graduates from University College Cork with the aim of facilitating relations between Irish universities and their alumni through an online platform.

CEO of Diaspora Matters, Kingsley Aikin, said that Ireland’s “public private model” was ahead of the international norm when it comes to engaging with the Irish community overseas. However, Aiken went on to say that the alumni model in the US was successful due to mass engagement.

Director of Alumni relations at UCC, Dr Jean van Sinderen-Law, said that Irish people were “reactive givers” and that the challenge was to make people more proactive.

When asked about his views on the relationship between DCU and its alumni, interim Alumni Director Padraig McKeon suggested that the model used for alumni relations in the US should not be used as a benchmark to measure the quality of Irish alumni relations. He added that alumni relations in Ireland were more comparable to the UK and Europe.

The nature of the conference was “parallel”, as it brought together diaspora and alumni alike, according to McKeon. These sentiments were echoed by the Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan TD. “Engaging our alumni overseas is the next obvious step at reaching out to our diaspora,” he said.

Andrew Ralph

Image Credit: DCU Alumni

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