DCU awarded €2m in Innovation and Transformation Fund

Orla Dwyer

Some projects will focus on developing digital systems to enable more flexible learning through online options and simulation training.

Over €2 million is being awarded to DCU from the Department of Education for learning and engagement projects.

Roughly €1.3 million is being awarded to DCU online learning, while a further €705,000 will be used to create a model of student engagement and development for students. The total fund is €23 million for 22 projects across 23 education facilities.

“This €23 million fund is being used to reward and support higher education institutions that are coming up with innovative ideas to attract people to third level and those that are doing more to create flexible options for learning,” said Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh.

This investment is part of the new Innovation and Transformation Fund. The figures were announced on February 8th by McHugh and Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

The largest proportion of the funding, €2.9 million, was allocated to the Irish Universities Association and DCU will benefit from this. DCU, along with six other universities, will have staff development programmes to enhance the digital confidence skills of lecturers.

The fund was initially launched in 2018. Many third level institutions will be partnering with organisations such as An Cosán, Family Carers Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland. DCU’s projects are not in collaboration with other organisations.

Some projects will focus on developing digital systems to enable more flexible learning through online options and simulation training. Maynooth University will receive €1.45 million to enhance the employability of their graduates.

“Innovation and discovery is what our higher education institutions do best – and this fund will enable them to invest in new ideas to improve students’ experiences, enhance student learning
and harness technology and new thinking for the benefit of our current and future students,” said Mitchell O’Connor.

According to Mitchell O’Connor, investment in higher education has increased by more than €250 million since 2016 to a total of over €1.7 billion.

Other projects focus on student mental health, supporting entrepreneurs and startups, student retention and leadership.

A call for proposals was made in 2018 for projects and applications were assessed by an independent panel.

McHugh said that these education initiatives will create new opportunities within Ireland’s education system. He claimed it would help to position the system as a “leader in inclusiveness, diversity and flexible models of education and lifelong learning”.

Mitchell O’Connor added that this funding will focus on finding new pathways and methods of teaching for students from a wide range of backgrounds. She said it will help students to develop as individuals, address student retention and support student progression across higher education institutions.

“It is a real investment in our education system and in our students,” added Mitchell O’Connor.

The funding will be allocated to the 22 projects up until 2021.

Orla Dwyer

Image Credit: Wikipedia