By Professor Don Barry
Welcome to UL or welcome back. I want to say a particular “Fáilte” to our first years and a heart-felt “Welcome back” to all other students.
As we start this semester together we have much to celebrate. Among a host of accolades and achievements of our students and staff, I know that you will take particular pride in being a student of Ireland’s “University of the Year 2015”. The Sunday Times Good University Guide awarded UL this title to recognise our commitment to graduate employability, our dedication to providing an exceptional student experience, our industry-relevant, award-winning research and our deep community engagement.
We recently celebrated the conferring of 2,422 new graduates who leave UL with much optimism, benefiting as they do from an unbeatable employability advantage over other Irish graduates. The employment rate of UL graduates one year after graduation is more than 20% higher than the average for the other six Irish universities. We call that the UL Edge – and it is something of which this university is justifiably proud. Our most recent survey revealed that more than 7 out of 10 of our graduates are going into direct employment. And most of the rest go on to further study and research. Our doctoral graduates are also very much in demand, with 94% of last year’s PhD graduates currently in employment. So you can study and research at UL with a great deal of confidence for your future prospects.
Our Research Impact initiative guarantees the relevance and impact of our translational research and we lead nationally in this space, making a positive impact on so many fields across economic, social and cultural domains. And we recently launched the UL Research Impact PhD Scholarship Programme to support the next generation of our brightest researchers, to add to many other scholarship programmes that will support UL students in their studies.
We are particularly proud to be one of only two universities in Ireland to win the coveted Athena SWAN Bronze award recognising best practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). In UL we have worked hard to ensure equal opportunities for all, leading the way in gender equality with the highest percentage of women at professorial level in Ireland (31% at UL compared to 19% nationally).
I look forward to meeting you during AY2015-16 at student exhibitions, awards ceremonies and the wide range of sporting events and clubs and societies activities that make UL such a vibrant and dynamic learning environment. I would encourage you to consider participating in the President’s Volunteer Awards which has been established to harness, acknowledge and support the contribution that students make through volunteering both on and off campus to help those less fortunate in our communities. And I do hope you will avail of the First Seven Weeks programme and all the other guidance, support and information services that we have in place to help you achieve your absolute best during your time at UL.
This semester we are launching our new Strategic Plan. We have evaluated with pride what we have achieved over the last 5 years under our previous strategy Pioneering & Connected. Our collaborative efforts have created a solid base from which we know we can grow. We will now be even more ambitious as we pursue greater global reach and impact and secure an enhanced international profile that reflects our contribution to all our futures. I look forward to sharing our plan with you and to implementing its exciting initiatives in collaboration with every UL student.
But for now I extend the hope you will grasp every opportunity that life as a UL student offers. You can rely on the foundation you are receiving here at UL to help you achieve a challenging and rewarding future career and life and I am confident that, individually and collectively, we can make your time at the University of Limerick truly special.
Go n-éirí go geal libh i 2015 agus i 2016.