By Ellen O’Donoghue
NUI Galway have outlined a new strategy which places the University at the centre of transformational change for Galway and the west of Ireland.
The new strategy, ‘Shared Vision, Shaped by Values’, was developed following extensive dialogue with students, academics and the wider community at NUI Galway and beyond, and marks a new approach for the university, placing shared values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability as the guide for the future direction of the college.
The strategy will see NUI Galway focus on its continued contribution to enhancing policy and society, enriching creativity, improving health and wellbeing, realising potential though data and enabling technologies, data science and environmental sustainability.
President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, spoke of the significance of the University’s ambitious plans: “We are a university with no gates”, he said. “Galway is the most international city in Ireland. This places us in an international context and enhanced co-operation with other international institutions, from this place and for this purpose, will also therefore be a focus of our new strategy”, he continued.
“NUI Galway is a public good, belonging to the people. In this strategy and in these times, we will use our location for the benefit of Ireland as an institution formed by values. Our research, our teaching and our engagement – with our students and our staff – has purpose”. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh added, “For example, given our geography at the intersection of Europe with the North Atlantic, the climate information we can gather is unique. The University will deliver subsequent climate research for the benefit of humanity”.
The President also reaffirmed the University’s commitment to the Irish language, pledging to put the language at the centre of future plans. “Beidh an Gaeilge freisin i croílár straitéis agus structúir na hollscoile, luachmhar agus aitheanta mar luach dár gcomhluadar.”, he said.
The university has also committed to leading the transformational change of Galway and the west of Ireland, with major impact for future generations, as part of the strategy’s urban development programme, ‘Building for the Future’. As part of this strategy, a new innovation district incorporating a riverside campus on Nuns’ Island is planned. The new campus will act as the primary driver for the urban regeneration of Galway city and a landmark cultural and performance space, acknowledging the university’s role as a national cultural institution and its contribution to Galway as a city of culture; both of which will be open to communities.
The University has also made further commitments to the student body, pledging to provide additional affordable and sustainable on-campus student accommodation and a sports campus for the future, delivering a new Water Sports Centre and 3G astro pitch.
Other commitments made by the University include the modernisation and redevelopment of the Hardiman Library, incorporating a Learning Commons that encourages and supports new forms of learning and engagements and applications of the University’s expertise through the creation of a new “City Lab”. This will be in partnership with regional and national stakeholders and will look to make Galway and the wider region a better place to live and work. A pledge to contribute towards the expansion of the Galway to Connemara Greenway, creating greater connections for cyclists and pedestrians between the campus and the city was also confirmed.
The University has also made clear its devotion to creating a fairer, more inclusive campus, committing to the practice of maintaining and promoting decent, high standards of employment and fairness for all who work at the University.
The critical role of the University in delivering sustainable development is central to the strategy. NUI Galway has signed the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord, moving further to develop research and teaching focus on the SDGs, and together developing a roadmap to move ambitiously towards a carbon neutral campus by 2030.
Professor Ó hÓgartaigh spoke about the importance sustainability had in shaping future planning, “We are here for our students and society, and now we must be here for our planet too. Our new strategy recognises how critical this moment is”, he commented. “We are distinctively shaped by our values, which emerged in consultation with our students, our staff and our other partners. These values shape the research which drives us, the teachings we share, the support we give and our engagement in the world and for the world”, added NUI Galway’s President.