University Head urges Government to continue investment in third-level education

University Head urges Government to continue investment in third-level education-image

Monday, 18 October 2004

"The Government must continue to invest in the basic capital infrastructure of our Universities and in pioneering research programmes like the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) in order to reach the goals established under the European Union's Lisbon Strategy," according to Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway. Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh was addressing graduates at the University's autumn conferral ceremonies which continue throughout the week when more than 3,000 students will be conferred with primary and higher degrees. Dr Ó Muircheartaigh stated that, "Investment in Irish universities is not an "option" – it is a necessity, a necessity which is supported by the findings of the recent OECD Report on third level education in Ireland." Welcoming the report which points the way forward for the sector and the country at a time when higher education is at a crossroads, Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said that the Report requires "a comprehensive response from Government and should be acted on in a holistic and not a piecemeal way if it is to have a major impact on the country's development." Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh went on to say that in the context of the report, "We see NUI Galway as a university committed to providing a world-class education for its students, to significantly enhancing its research profile, to modernising its structures and engaging with its communities in support of economic, cultural and social development." He said that together with the other universities in Ireland, NUI Galway is more than ready to play its part in providing leadership for change. "To enable us to do this, however," he said, "it is essential that government adopt a funding policy for Higher Education which will support ambitious and progressive strategic plans, such as that of NUI Galway," Ends

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Marine plankton, bubbles and sea-spray could regulate climate

Marine plankton, bubbles and sea-spray could regulate climate-image

Monday, 11 October 2004

An EU-funded research team lead by Professor Colin O'Dowd from the National University of Ireland, Galway and Dr. Maria Cristina Facchini from the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate has discovered a new and dominant source of aerosol particles over the ocean which can contribute, through the formation of haze and cloud layers, to the Earth's heat shield. This in turn can partially reduce global warming driven by the increase in greenhouse gases. These aerosol particles are mainly comprised of organic matter, produced by plankton, and concentrated at the ocean surface due to its surface-active properties. Through the formation and bursting of bubbles in oceanic whitecaps, this organic matter is ejected into the atmosphere in the form of sea-spray aerosol particles. The bubble bursting process produces sea-spray which is generally thought to comprise sea-salt (i.e. inorganic matter). However, this new research has demonstrated that during periods of plankton blooms, sea-spray comprises organic matter rather than inorganic sea-salt and that the addition of this organic matter can increase the availability of aerosol particles and cloud nuclei – both of which contribute to increasing the cooling effect of the Earth's heat shield. Previous research had linked algae and plankton to climate change through sulphur and iodine vapours forming aerosols. This new research which has been published in the most recent edition of Nature magazine, has shown that organic matter could in fact be the most important contributor to marine aerosols. However, this source of marine aerosol is currently lacking in state-of-the-art climate modelling studies. This breakthrough, linking the marine biosphere to climate change, is expected to have an important impact on the future prediction of the Earth's response to greenhouse-gas induced global warming. The research team is composed of scientists from the Environmental Change Institute of the National University of Ireland, Galway; the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate; and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, also in Italy. This work was funded by EC FP5 projects QUEST and PHOENICS. Ends

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Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin TD opens €35 million biomedical research fa

Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin TD opens €35 million biomedical research fa-image

Monday, 4 October 2004

"Research – central to our economic progress"- Hanafin The Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, TD, today (October 4th 2004) opened a new €35 million biomedical research centre at NUI Galway which has the potential to revolutionise patient treatment, eliminate the need for organ transplant and improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide. The National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) brings together a team of over 150 researchers who will also focus on developing treatments for diseases which are currently incurable. Speaking at the opening of the NCBES, Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, TD said, "It is an honour for me to be present for the opening of this facility which firmly places NUI Galway and Ireland at the frontier of international biomedical research. We look forward to the impact that this research will have on future generations around the globe. Ireland must remain internationally competitive and the development of world-class research across a range of disciplines in Irish universities is vital for us to fulfil this ambition. Scientific education and research is central to our economic progress". Commenting on the research ongoing at the new facility, Professor Terry Smith, Director of the NCBES said, "We are very excited about the development of this new facility and the extent of the research being undertaken here. The facility brings together a broad team of researchers from the disciplines of science, engineering and medicine, who will work together to develop new techniques which will revolutionise current processes. The NCBES is unique in Ireland and will work closely in collaboration with local industry involved in the biomedical field and with University College Hospital, Galway (UCHG). Through its interdisciplinary approach, the NCBES has established an international reputation for its research and is working with other similar institutes in Europe and the US to ensure that rapid advances are made in this exciting area of biomedical research." One of the specific areas of research currently ongoing is the development of materials that will minimise rejection of stents in the human body. Stents are implanted in the body for a variety of heart and other operations. The research involves the development of SMART materials, so called because they adapt to their environment in the human body by reacting to the body's temperature. The development of SMART materials is unique to an Irish university and involves the use of sophisticated modelling techniques. The material is inserted into the body as a fluid which then becomes a gel. A coating of the smart material on the stent also facilitates effective drug-release control. The main advantage of the use of these biomaterials is that they are biodegradable and can also be removed if necessary. Other research projects ongoing at the centre include tissue engineering which is a new field of biomedicine that unites science, engineering and medicine, to restore or replace tissues and organs that have been damaged by disease or injury. Ends

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November 2004

NUI Galway's reform agenda being implemented "quickly and without rancour"– Pres

NUI Galway's reform agenda being implemented

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

-President supports establishment of multimillion euro fund to drive reform in the University system- University Reform, identified as a key issue in the recently published OECD Report, is being successfully implemented in NUI Galway through widespread consultation with staff and in a collegiate spirit, according to NUI Galway President, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh. The President was speaking at the University's final conferring ceremony of the year today (Tuesday). Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said that there appears to have been a widely-perceived implication in the media that because there have been major internal disagreements in other universities on these matters, those universities are perceived as being "the most advanced" in terms of reform. However, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh stated that substantial reforms have already been instituted at NUI Galway based on a strong consultative process and that NUI Galway is to the forefront among the Irish universities in terms of reforms actually implemented. He said: "For our part, we believe that reasoned dialogue and exchange of ideas are the essence of a university, and would suggest that because we have engaged in such debate and deliberation, we have managed to arrive at collegial positions on difficult issues, thus enabling reforms to be implemented relatively quickly and without rancour." In conjunction with this, Dr Ó Muircheartaigh also welcomed Minister Hanafin's proposal that a multimillion fund be established to support reforms in the university system but called for a process that is open and clear with measurable metrics. Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said, "We would urge that, if such a fund is set up, whatever process is adopted for the allocation of this fund should be open and transparent, and that clear and measurable metrics be applied both in relation to what has already been achieved, and in relation to proposed further reforms. There is no doubt that our continuing reform can certainly be accelerated with financial support." Dr Ó Muircheartaigh went on to outline specific changes implemented in NUI Galway's academic programmes and structures: A number of departments have been successfully amalgamated to create larger academic units, and, as a matter of policy, are actively promoting this agenda. Two chairs and associated departments have been suppressed in areas where student demand did not justify the continuation of such departments. The University has semesterised and modularised all of its undergraduate academic programmes. The start of the academic year has successfully been brought forward to early September in order to support this modularisation and semesterisation. Again this has been achieved with the full support of all staff. A Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT) has been created and resourced in order to provide support for staff in their teaching activities, including active encouragement to use the most advanced technology available. NUI Galway has successfully competed in all PRTLI (Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions) cycles and has succeeded in embedding both the PRTLI-related research centres and the new structures funded by SFI (Science Foundation Ireland) into reformed academic structures. In particular, the University has developed new structures to integrate the teaching and research functions both within and across departments. The University's Quality Assessment function has succeeded in completing a full cycle of assessments of all academic departments, and, where appropriate, significant reforms – both structural and operational - have been instituted. With the support of academic staff, NUI Galway has successfully launched a Service Learning and Community Knowledge Programme in order to involve students more actively in the community. This programme actively encourages students to engage with communities on a volunteering basis – in Galway, throughout the region, nationally and internationally and NUI Galway has begun to integrate such activities into the University's formal academic structures. Ends

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Open Day at NUI Galway

Open Day at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 22 November 2004

Thousands of second-level students from all over the country are expected to attend NUI Galway's annual Open Day which takes place this year on Thursday 2 December, from 9.00am to 3.00pm. Parents are also welcome to attend. The event is an ideal opportunity for second-level, access and mature students to get information on the academic programmes provided by the University. Academic staff from the University's fifty-two departments will be available at the exhibition stands to answer queries and provide detailed subject and course information. With seven Faculties and almost 14,000 students, NUI Galway is the first choice option for many students when completing their CAO forms. "Given the huge range of courses on offer, Leaving Cert students often find it difficult to choose the options best suited to them," says Mary Coyle, NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Officer. "Open Day provides an ideal opportunity for the students to meet academic staff and postgraduate students at the various stands and discuss the various courses being provided." On their arrival at NUI Galway on the 2nd December, students are requested to come to the assembly point in the Quadrangle, where they will be given directions to introductory lectures and exhibition areas. Guided tours of the campus will be provided throughout the day. These will include visits to the Clinical Science Institute (Medical School), the Martin Ryan Institute, the Arts Millennium Building, Áras na Gaeilge, Student Accommodation and Sports Facilities. There will also be laboratory demonstrations in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry. Students will have the opportunity to visit the Information Technology Labs. and the University's Applied Languages Centre. NUI Galway is constantly improving facilities for its students and staff. A new Graduate School of Business and Public Policy as well a new Centre for Nursing, Therapies and Political Science and Sociology, are currently under construction. In addition, the University hopes to proceed with the construction of a new €53m. Engineering School, as part of the overall St. Anthony's campus development while plans are at an advanced stage for the construction of a new Sports and Recreation Centre, which will include a swimming pool. Ends

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Seamus Heaney Launches 'Anything Can Happen' at NUI Galway

Seamus Heaney Launches 'Anything Can Happen' at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

New Book in Support of Amnesty International Seamus Heaney at a ceremony in NUI Galway, today (Wednesday 17 November, Aula Maxima, Upper) launched his new book Anything Can Happen, in collaboration with Amnesty International. Anything Can Happen is Heaney's translation of an ode by Horace written over 2,000 years ago, with an accompanying essay on the conflict in today s world, and 23 translations of the poem. "This work perfectly reflects Amnesty's warnings on the threats to human rights in the world today," said Director of Amnesty International's Irish Section Sean Love. "It will be a huge boost to our work in Ireland and around the world, and Anything Can Happen maintains our long tradition of support from internationally-recognised artists." Anything Can Happen was formally launched by the South African Ambassador, H.E. Melanie Verwoerd, at NUI Galway today. In a special ceremony, Seamus Heaney presented a unique copy of the book, signed by Nelson Mandela, to the President of NUI Galway Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh. Students from the Irish Centre for Human Rights read extracts from the work in various languages. Welcoming the guests to the University, President Ó Muircheartaigh remarked, "it is a great pleasure to host the launch of this work by one of the world's leading poets in support of Amnesty, and it is indeed fitting that this launch takes place at NUI Galway, home to the Irish Centre for Human Rights." He continued "on behalf of NUI Galway, I am delighted to accept the special edition of Anything Can Happen signed by Nelson Mandela when he visited the University in June 2003." The poem is published with an accompanying essay in which Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney reflects on the relevance of art in the political context of the twenty-first century. The language translations are presented in an order that reminds us of the difficult histories between the people who speak them. The webcast of this event will be available from 2.30pm (local time) at www.nuigalway.ie/anythingcanhappen Anything Can Happen is available from Amnesty's website at www.amnesty.ie The translations appear courtesy of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association, who have generously donated their efforts to the project. Ends

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Research Report shows significant development of Child Care and Family Support S

Research Report shows significant development of Child Care and Family Support S-image

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Social services providing family support, child protection and out-of-home care, have developed significantly in recent years and there are now many models of good practice to be found in health board areas throughout the country. That's according to a new study carried out by the Western Health Board/NUI Galway Child and Family Research and Policy Unit. The report, entitled "Working with Children and Families – Exploring Good Practice," will be launched by Mr. Brian Lenihan, TD, Minister for State at the Department of Health and Children, with special responsibility for children, in the Oranmore Lodge Hotel, Oranmore, today (Tuesday). The report provides a snapshot of some of the models and approaches currently being implemented in child and family services throughout Ireland. Each Health Board was asked to nominate examples of good practice of service provision in their areas. The 26 profiles nominated and discussed in this report, will enable policy makers and practitioners to see examples of good work and learn from the experience of others. Dr Pat Dolan, one of the researchers on the project said: "The wide range of projects demonstrates that interventions with families can be effective in many different ways and across service settings from early years day care to residential care." He added that a number of the case studies "advocated greater partnership with children and families as key to good practice." The report shows that the most effective and successful services are those provided in consultation with the recipients, whether they are teenagers or parents of children at risk. Among the examples of best practice cited in the report are: Pre-school childcare services that combine provision of childcare with support for the parents, such as parenting skills courses and vocational educational programmes that enable the parents and children function better as a family. Drop-in Centres for teenagers where trained staff provide additional support for adolescents in difficulty. The young people are also involved in the design and set-up of the centre which gives them a sense of ownership of the project Community-based projects to assist children at risk of expulsion from school. The child-led model agrees steps with the parents, child, teachers and local youth workers and as it is the child who determines what is likely to work, there is a greater likelihood that the child will remain in school. Residential care model that keeps children in care in their own community, where they continue to attend their local school, have regular contact with their family and friends, thus retaining their social network Mr. Brian Lenihan, TD, Minister for State at the Department of Health and Children said: "This Government is committed to strengthening policies and enhancing services to support families and children. I am confident that this report will prove to be of enormous benefit to both policy makers and practitioners and will play an important part in the ongoing quest to improve the quality of services provided for families and children." The report is not intended as an evaluation of services but focuses on strengths in child and family care practices which can be replicated nationally and internationally. The research was commissioned by the Child Care Policy Unit of the Department of Health and Children. Ends

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NUI Galway Scientists elected to key International Organisations

NUI Galway Scientists elected to key International Organisations-image

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Two NUI Galway scientists, carrying out advanced research in Optics have become the first Ireland-based scientists to be elected to the principal organisations governing the activities of the Optics community worldwide. Both scientists are based in NUI Galway's Department of Experimental Physics. Professor Chris Dainty has been elected vice-president of the Optical Society of America, which has over 14,000 members in over 80 countries, while Professor Tom Glynn has been elected to the Board of Directors of SPIE, the Society for Optical Engineering, with over 18,000 members around the world. The appointments mark the first occasion that a single institution outside the US has been represented on the boards of these important optics organisations, dedicated to advancing Optics and Photonics. Each of the scientists was part of a short list presented to the membership, who voted to select governing boards for a 3-year period, beginning in January 2005. "This is a singular honour for our scientists and an indication of the reputations that the NUI Galway research groups have established in the lasers and optics communities worldwide," said Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway. "The research strength of the University has been significantly increased in recent years through our success in the Government's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and research carried out in the University is achieving global recognition". Since October 2002, Professor Chris Dainty is Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor in the Department of Physics at NUI Galway, where his research group works in imaging, adaptive optics, and instrumentation for vision science. He is particularly interested in the applications of optics in the diagnosis and treatment of various conditions in the eye and in applying adaptive optics to the human eye, primarily to produce very high-resolution images of the retina in vivo. Professor Tom Glynn was recently appointed Professor of Experimental Physics in NUI Galway and is founder and current director of the National Centre for Laser Applications (NCLA), also based in the Department of Physics. The laser group carries out research, training, prototyping, and technology transfer activities in the area of high-power lasers and their applications. The NCLA has extensive collaborations with industry partners in Ireland. Ends

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Sports Scholarships awarded to Student-Athletes at NUI Galway

Sports Scholarships awarded to Student-Athletes at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 3 November 2004

Sports Scholarships amounting to €70,000 have been presented by University President, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, to athletes who are the recipients of this year's NUI Galway's Sports Scholarships Scheme. This is the seventh year of the scheme, which supports athletes who excel in their respective sporting fields and are students of NUI Galway. The scholarship and bursary scheme assists these students financially through their time in University and this year's selection of athletes is representative of many sports, including Gaelic Games, Athletics, Rowing, Ladies Football, Hockey, Squash and Water Polo, and also includes a wide geographical spread. The scheme has been a phenomenal success over the past six years, with many recipients representing the University with distinction at national and international levels. A total of sixteen athletes, who are already on sports scholarships and are still studying at the University, have received €2,000 again this year. A further nine students have received scholarships (worth €2,000) for the first time, while an additional 36 students have benefited to the tune of €1,000 each, under the University's Bursary scheme. This year's Scholarship winners include Cormac Folan from Barna (Rowing), who was a silver medallist at the World Student Games 2004; David Horkan from Mayo (Soccer) a Harding Cup winner with NUI Galway in 2004; Geraldine Conneally, from Dunmore, Co. Galway (Ladies Gaelic Football), an all Ireland Senior Medallist with Galway 2004; and Sinéad Keane, from Kinvara (Camogie), current wing-back on the Galway Senior Camogie Team. Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway says the scheme shows the commitment of the University to supporting and facilitating sporting excellence in its students. "The scheme has been a huge success over the years enabling top calibre student athletes reach their full potential. This initiative shows NUI Galway's commitment to the promotion of sport which is so important in creating a balanced lifestyle for our students," he said. NUI Galway Sports Officer, Tony Regan says the Sports Scholarship Scheme initiative encourages students to participate at the highest levels in sport. "This scheme in a firm indication of our interest in supporting students to participate in all sports at the highest levels." he said. "Since the inception of the scheme, sports scholarship holders have successfully participated in a diverse range of sports at national and international levels right up to and including the Olympic Games". Ends

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December 2004

University Gala Banquet to celebrate International role of University

University Gala Banquet to celebrate International role of University-image

Thursday, 2 December 2004

Details have been announced of NUI Galway's sixth annual Gala Banquet, which will take place at the Radisson SAS Hotel on Saturday 5th March 2005. The theme of the 2005 Gala Banquet is the University's mission in international education. The Gala will focus on NUI Galway's role as an international force for change in improving educational opportunities for students from developing countries. To underline this global responsibility a major new initiative, the NUI Galway International Scholars programme has been announced. The NUI Galway International Scholars programme is a philanthropic initiative spearheaded by Galway University Foundation who will be working with a range of donors to secure substantial new scholarship funds for postgraduate students from developing countries to study in NUI Galway. Income from the Gala Banquet itself will also contribute to this new initiative. One of the highlights of the evening is the presentation of seven Alumni Awards. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual excellence and achievements among the more than 50,000 graduates worldwide. The Alumni Awards are, Medtronic Vascular Award for Health Care and Medical Science; Seavite Award for Natural Science; Bank of Ireland Award for Business and Commerce; Hewlett-Packard Award for Literature, Communications and the Arts; TBD Award for Engineering, IT and Mathematics; Duais Hewlett-Packard don Ghaeilge and the NUI Galway Award for Law, Public Service and Government. Speaking at this week's reception, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway said: "The University's Gala Banquet has established itself as a premier national event and one of the key social occasions in the West of Ireland. This year the event will celebrate NUI Galway as an international centre of educational excellence. The establishment of the NUI Galway International Scholars programme, which will feature prominently at the Gala, is a major philanthropic initiative which will enable us to help students from developing countries to continue their studies at this University." Ticket for the banquet cost €150 each or a table of 10 for €1,500. For further information, please telephone 091 495266 or Email: gala@nuigalway.ie Ends

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