Jan 29, 2020

Research, Ratios and Postgraduates at Heart of Trinity’s New Strategic Plan

The plan, obtained by The University Times, also promises increased campus diversity, among a raft of goals for the next five years.

Cormac WatsonDeputy Editor
Róisín Power for The University Times

Sustainable growth, increased postgraduate numbers and a revamped research strategy are at the centre of Trinity’s plans for the next five years, The University Times has learned.

The College‚Äôs new strategic plan, a draft copy of which was obtained by The University Times, also promises increased diversity among students and a lowering of the student‚Äďstaff ratios to 16:1 as well as capital investment projects on and off campus.

The draft document, which was approved by the College Board on November 27th, pledges to increase the proportion of postgraduates from 28 to 32 per cent by 2025. This bump in postgraduate numbers will be accompanied by a ‚Äúmajor and systematic renewal of all facets of postgraduate education‚ÄĚ, according to the plan.


It’s not clear when the plan, which technically came into effect on January 1st, will have its official launch.

The renewal of postgraduate education, a development that came after lobbying over several years from the College’s Graduate Students’ Union, will include the introduction of new taught postgraduate modules and courses as well as a renewal of Trinity’s structured PhD programme and a re-evaluation of College’s approach to postdoctoral researchers. The number of non-EU postgraduate taught students, the plan states, will increase by 42 per cent.

Sustainability is central to the College‚Äôs future in a plan bearing the tagline ‚ÄúCommunity and Connection‚ÄĚ. Its new buildings will be based on ‚Äúsustainability principles‚ÄĚ, and the College aims to ‚Äúprovide leadership in sustainability through improvements in energy use, reduction in waste including single use plastics, promoting areas such as sustainable transport and biodiversity‚ÄĚ.

More on the Strategic Plan
A closer look at some of the plan’s biggest promises.

The plan says that Trinity will increase ‚Äúthe extent to which our research and teaching aligns with the aim of achieving a healthy and sustainable planet‚ÄĚ. The College will also ‚Äúsupport and conduct civically-engaged research‚ÄĚ based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The plan pledges that 20 per cent of all research output will be related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2025.

Trinity also plans to attain an Athena SWAN Silver award by 2025, and integrate the SAGE Charter for gender equality into the fabric of the College by 2021, as well as ensuring that 40 per cent of chair professors are female by 2025.

The College promises to hire more than 200 new staff members to better facilitate its new focus on research, targeting specific areas. The plan states that new initiatives such as the proposed E3 research institute in the new Grand Canal campus ‚Äúwill help to equip new generations to tackle the grand challenge of sustainability‚ÄĚ.

The plan also focuses on improving student experiences. The College has in the past few years come under severe scrutiny for its high student to staff ratio, which currently stands at 18:1. The College is now pledging a drop in the ratio to 16:1 by 2024. Trinity also wants to spread the capstone project initiative across all undergraduate courses, to bring them more in line with postgraduate courses.

The plan also references a number of capital investments that Trinity will be undertaking in the next five years. By 2022, Trinity plans to open the new E3 Learning Foundry on the east side of the campus, which will host the new E3 project, bringing together the Schools of Computer Science and Statistics, Engineering and Natural Sciences under the same roof. Printing House Square is set to open in early 2020, adding 250 more beds and a welfare centre. The document also references plans to build an extra 350 beds in Trinity Hall.

The College also plans to begin work on a new Law School, refurbish the Rubrics and Chief Stewards House by 2022, begin the process of building a new Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute and redevelop the sports facilities in Iveagh Ground. The masterplan for Trinity’s second campus situated in the Grand Canal Innovation District will be released in 2022, according to the plan.

To source funds for its plans, Trinity will look to its Inspiring Generations campaign, as part of which it hopes to raise ‚ā¨400 million in philanthropic donations.

Strategic Plan Analysis
Trinity’s vision for the next five years is well-intentioned, but lacking in substance.

The plan does note, however, that ‚Äúthe financial outlook for the university will continue to remain uncertain unless the Government changes its commitment to long-term funding, or lifts the cap on undergraduate student fees‚ÄĚ.

The College declined a request from The University Times for an interview with Provost Patrick Prendergast to discuss the new plan.

Continuing the trend of past five years, the College pledges to increase the number of non-EU students attending Trinity from 15 to 18.5 per cent of the student population by 2025 ‚Äď an increase that will be accompanied by a reimagining of College‚Äôs current admission strategy by 2021.

Trinity also plans to further expand the Trinity Access Programme (TAP) ‚Äď increasing the number of secondary schools which the programme engages with and increasing the number of students who enter the college either via TAP or the HEAR or DARE schemes so that such students make up 18 per cent of Trinity‚Äôs undergraduate population.

The College also wants to ‚Äúbecome a world leader in how we communicate research and its impact to our multiple audiences‚ÄĚ, aiming to host 1,000 public research events in the Long Room Hub in the next five years.

And it hopes to strengthen its global network of research and educational links, stating: ‚ÄúIn a world in which connectivity is the new growth, Trinity will grow as a university ‚Ķ by becoming ever more connected in an interdependent world‚ÄĚ. Through CHARM-EU, an EU-funded university alliance, the College aims to offer ‚Äúchallenge-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative degrees, with students moving flexibly across all member institutions‚ÄĚ.

After the introduction of a joint-degree with Columbia University, the College hopes to introduce at least one dual and one joint degree per faculty by 2024. The plan also outlines a future with closer links to industry and the international world. Trinity aims to add ‚Äúat least one new industry collaborating company from a new country per year‚ÄĚ.

The plan also envisions a more mobile student body, and vows to increase scholarships and bursaries to allow students to travel.

‚ÄúThe proposed development will upgrade one of the most prominent locations in the City, contribute to the animation of the area, will allow for the construction of striking and innovative contemporary/modern building in a historic city location, proximate to public transport and other amenities. The proposal exhibits a distinctive contemporary design which will make a positive contribution to the subject site and Dublin‚Äôs urban fabric.‚ÄĚ

The old biochemistry building, Robert’s Laboratory and the PC huts are currently being demolished to make way for the new building.

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