Third-level link-up goes far beyond research co-operation


Academic bodies aim to integrate resources and share expertise but also retain individual identity

THE 3U Partnership that will link three of Dublin’s third-level institutions is expected to be much more than a research collaboration.

The three plan to create a unique identity that will allow them to retain their own ethos while achieving an unprecedented level of academic co-operation.

NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland plan to establish links across a wide selection of disciplines, including the sciences and the humanities.

The strengths of one institution will support those of another to “achieve much more together than we ever could alone”, according to the universities.

Quick comparisons at the launch yesterday in Dublin suggested the partnership was a competing body to the Innovation Alliance, a research collaboration started in March 2009 by University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

The three institutions were quick to point out, however, the partnership would create wider inter-institutional links.

While they will begin by establishing a research co-operative, 3U Biomedical Research, to co-ordinate the work of a combined 750 researchers, the partnership aspires to go well beyond just scientific collaboration.

For example, a key goal of the agreement is to provide a much more structured experience for international students who are planning to undertake studies in Ireland.

All three institutions have a long record of attracting students from abroad, but they want to establish a “joint foundation and induction programme” that will advance language skills, cultural integration on campus and academic studies for these high-value students.

The partnership plans new academic courses that will blend expertise across the three campuses, including a masters level programme in healthcare technology, a joint programme in humanitarian logistics and emergency management and an MA programme in history and archives.

There are also plans to establish degree programmes on societal challenges and on global health.

The university heads were at pains to indicate that this was only the beginning of a new level of integration that would bind the three institutions together.

While each would retain its own particular identity, the three will be exchanging expertise, academic staff and also students, all in support of the delivery of a comprehensive education for those attending the three institutions.