Future DCU undergraduate students will be able to mix and match modules from different universities as part of a roughly €32 million initiative funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
The initiative will also see DCU unveil four brand new undergraduate courses.
“[The funding] is an affirmation of the distinctive DCU DNA which will enable us to do what we do best,” DCU president Daire Keogh said in a statement.
Under the new program dubbed the ‘Multi-Campus Micro-Credentials’ project, students from DCU, NUI Maynooth, University College Cork, Trinity College, UCD, University of Limerick and NUI Galway will all be able to take select online courses from each other university.
“The project is to establish a coherent national framework for ECTS-bearing micro-credentials, a system of certified qualifications in short courses delivered in flexible formats,” said Thomas Kelley, a DCU spokesperson.
“It is focused on agile short courses rather than undergraduate or postgraduate degrees,” Kelley added.
The program will cost about €12 million to set up and funding is provided under the Department of Higher Education’s Human Capital Initiative (HCI) The HCI is a five-year plan first announced as part of the national budget in 2019 to support the development of necessary labour market skills.
The HCI is also funding a “radical restructuring of undergraduate curriculum” at DCU which will feature several new undergraduate courses and specialisms.
The almost €20 million grant for the project will go towards adding new bachelor’s degrees in Global Challenges, Psychology and Disruptive Technologies, Energy/Sustainable Systems Engineering, and Digital Business and Innovation.
The grant will also pay for new specialisms in Bioprocessing, Chemistry with Artificial Intelligence, Physics with Data Analytics and Business with Analytics.
The awarded money is part of the new DCU Futures project which aims to innovate and modernise the school’s curriculum.
“DCU Futures will offer our students unique combinations of high tech, high impact, human touch programmes which will equip them to flourish as eminently employable, creative, global citizens,” Keogh said in a statement.
The new courses under the futures project will create the capacity for over 1,000 new students at DCU.
Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, announced the funding on October 5th, so many details such as when each program will become accessible to students are still unclear, according to Kelly.
Both the multi-campus micro-credentials and radical restructuring of undergraduate curriculum projects are part of 22 new third-level innovation programs that received funding from the government under the HCI this month.
DCU is collaborating with other universities on several of the other projects, including the design of virtual laboratories spearheaded by Maynooth, but with assistance from the DCU School of Chemical Science.
The DCU School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering is also teaming up with Carlow IT to launch a program called “postgraduate certificate in innovative materials for industry.”
All 22 projects amount to €197 million across a five-year span.
Devin Sean Martin
Image Credit: Jonathon Lynam