Continuing on with The Global Galway Project and the mission to internationalise our university – what role does the commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion play?
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is everything to internationalisation. The role it plays is absolutely fundamental to us being able to internationalise well. That’s not just about growing our student numbers and recruiting staff, but making sure that in the process we grow diversity, we celebrate the cultural diversity, the different experiences people bring, the places that people come from and the experiences they come and share and the different views that they bring with them.
It’s also that those people who are coming to us from around the world have an opportunity to understand Ireland, to really mix and spend time with our Irish colleagues, within the University students and staff but also with the society and the community that surrounds us.
We need to make sure all of that works well together and, as you can you can tell from that, that it’s all about inclusion, it’s all about celebrating diversity.
So, if we are to become a truly international university what are the practical changes we will see in terms of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the coming years?
We need to think about how internationalisation enriches us as a university and then think about how we best enable that enrichment and utilise it.
It’s not just about having everyone in the classroom. It’s about bringing everyone into the educational experience, ensuring that in the classrooms we allow the space and the opportunity for people to share their experiences and share their views and for everyone to listen, to debate, discuss and learn from the cultural richness that comes with a diversified classroom.
The same applies to our staff environments. Each of us who comes here to work at NUI Galway brings with us experiences from where we’ve come that can help us think about the systems and processes we have in place, how we can update them, streamline them.
Equally that can help us have the discussions about Equality and Diversity and Inclusion. Are we doing enough? Are we recognizing the challenges that come with coming from different places in the world?
You mentioned research in your answer, so does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion offer opportunities for international research collaborations and, if so, how can such opportunities be best pursued in your view?
It is absolutely critical. It brings multiple perspectives to problems, especially where we’re thinking about real world questions and challenges. Bringing different perspectives and experiences is incredibly valuable, and really practical.
Increasingly, funding opportunities for research are very much directed towards multi-institution and multi-stakeholder teams. So, having international connections, having international staff with connections around the world, all of these things are about positioning us to be able to apply competitively for research funding in the future. And, practically, when we embark on collaborative research then it immediately positions us well.
One example of how we’re gearing up to support staff in this regard is through our ENLIGHT partnership. This is an EU funded network of nine European universities, of which we are a member, and it means that we’ve got a ready-made group of partners who are eager to work together.
It’s a wonderful model that speaks really well to our four core values and our mission as a university to be a university for society. It means that we can enable Galway, Galway City and County Council, Galway businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to create links with our partners across Europe.
Our next steps are going to be looking at that type of model and how we can create these sort of gateways in other parts of the world.