TCD declares ambition to tackle ‘global research question’ but puts rebranding on hold
Strategic plan says TCD must strike a balance between innovation and Trinity’s heritage
Trinity College Dublin
An ambitious plan by Trinity College Dublin to tackle a “global research question” like climate change or youth unemployment is one of the key targets the university has set for itself over the next five years.
In its Strategic Plan 2014-2019, published today, TCD sets out a number of goals including doubling the number of international students on campus; completing three major capital projects in business, engineering and medicine; and creating new residences for 2,000 students.
The 400-year-old institution, however, has put on hold its controversial “identity initiative”, which would have seen TCD rebranded as “Trinity College, the University of Dublin” under a modernised logo.
The college says it will complete the work on a new logo and branding at some stage in the future, but only after consulting widely to ensure “a balance is achieved between the heritage elements of Trinity’s identity” and its innovation in education and research.
The 80-page strategy is a mixture of concrete targets and lofty ideals.
Three major capital projects are identified:
nThe €70 million Trinity Business School and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, which will be co-located on a site backing on to Pearse Street.
nThe €150 million “E3 – Engineering, Energy and Environment Institute”, which seeks to promote cross-disciplinary research in technology and the natural environment.
nA €75 million Cancer Institute at St James’s Hospital, aimed at consolidating innovation in clinical practice.
The university is seeking to raise €600 million to implement the plan through a combination of exchequer and private funding, including an increase in philanthropic donations.
On a broader scale, TCD sets out a new mission to increase the diversity of its student population, improve the quality of its research and also “fearlessly engage in actions that advance the cause of a pluralistic, just and sustainable society”.
In this regard, it plans to identify a “global research question” that “enhances Ireland’s reputation on the world stage, and that will have a long-term positive global impact”.
He said: “Wouldn’t it be great if universities could focus their minds on some of these great challenges?
“That is what the global research question is about, framing a question and putting some of our resources into making an impact, changing the world for the better.”
He said the university would discuss internally what cause to choose, but also consult its industry and academic partners as well as “our benefactors and philanthropists”.
Other plans include the establishment of a “Trinity Creative” programme which seeks to incubate future cultural exports like Riverdance.
“If Dublin can have a Silicon Valley tinge to it at all it will be in this area” of creative arts, said Dr Prendergast.
llllll Another goal is to restructure TCD’s financial base so that 60 per cent of income comes from non-exchequer sources by 2018/2019 (from 49 per cent today).
Dr Prendergast said this target was “not so much about freedom; it’s about recognising the pressures on the public purse.
“All around Europe and North America, public funding in higher education is reducing, so I think it’s prudent that we plan for a scenario where public funding is reduced.”
Asked whether TCD would ever wish to go it alone without public funding, he said: “We would have no ambitions to be other than a public university. But it’s not by accident that some of the great universities of the world are private universities . . . We need to strike the right balance so universities can prosper.”