This article will focus prodominantly on the larger universities and colleges in Ireland and what they are doing in the area of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). In the past, some of these places would have been seen as elitist and not for certain groups or people in society. However, all of these establishments have made huge strides in recent years in being more understanding, welcoming and educated in the area of D&I. This is now reflected in their D&I landing pages. Some of these places include:
RCSI is Ireland’s largest medical school and awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees across a range of healthcare-related disciplines. The RCSI EDI Unit was established in 2017. The Unit manages, promotes and coordinates EDI activities across the University.
The EDI page on the RCSI website includes information about the EDI Unit, contact details and information about our staff and student forums and staff networks. The page also details RCSI’s Athena Swan work and implementation of EDI across ten equality grounds. The ten equality grounds that RCSI supports are: age, civil status, disability, family status, gender, membership of the Traveller community, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. On the EDI page you can learn about the work RCSI has done to promote equality across these grounds.
Some of the highlights of the EDI Unit’s work include RCSI being the first university in Ireland to develop a Race Equality Action Plan, working with HR on policies such as the Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Policy and Gender Identity and Expression Policy, and hosting events for important dates in the EDI calendar (e.g. International Women’s Day, Pride and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities).
The EDI Unit runs training programmes for staff and students in areas including race equality, bystander intervention, consent, autism awareness and gender identity.
Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s leading university, is home to 20,000 students and 4000 staff from more than 120 countries. With a dedicated policy and offices and who specialise in equality-related matters, there is a lot of activity going on in term of EDI in the college – it’s very difficult to summarise it into a few paragraphs. But from its EDI landing page, anyone can see the initiatives taking place:
The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities. I could (and hopefully at some point will do) an entire case study just on TCPID, but to summarise, the centre is situated within the School of Education, TCPID offers a two-year course for students with intellectual disabilities called the Arts, Science, and Inclusive Applied Practice, where they study a broad range of subjects and experience work placement. TCPID also provides internship programmes for their graduates in collaboration with business partners, where the graduates get paid work experience that for some has led to permanent employment.
In a first for Ireland, TCD together with UCC, UCD, UG and TU Dublin organised a Gender Equality Charter Symposium. The event brought together EDI staff from the HEI sector to discuss learnings and hear from experts in the field of equality and higher education.
The Trinity Inclusive Curriculum Project works to embed principles of diversity, equality and inclusion across all teaching and learning at Trinity College Dublin. The project “supports the engagement, representation and action of all students, including those from diverse worldviews, cultures, and identities, and with different learning backgrounds, abilities and strategies.” while working to “embed the principles of inclusion in all aspects of the academic cycle”. To achieve this, Trinity-INC collaborates across all domains of the College community: with academic and teaching staff, students, student support services and university leadership. This includes the Trinity-INC Student Partner Programme involving Trinity students from all walks of life and communities which are commonly underrepresented and/or disadvantaged in HE and the Trinity-INC Professional Learning Module on Inclusive Practices in Teaching and Learning available to all staff involved in teaching or supporting teaching and learning at Trinity.
In addition, the college also has unconscious bias training workshops and an EDI calendar that marks all of the important religious, educational and awareness campaigns around the different sectors and areas of EDI.
The TU Dublin Directorate of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion landing page immediately states the Directorate’s mission; a commitment to actively fostering an inclusive, diverse, safe and respectful institutional culture in TU Dublin. Beneath the mission statement, six large action buttons appear. These buttons direct users to information on the various activities of the EDI Directorate, as well as activities with EDI dimensions taking place across the university. This includes links to Action Plans on Race Equity, Gender Equality (Athena SWAN), and Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment, to the Directorate’s research wing the AIB Research Centre for Inclusive and Equitable Cultures (RINCE), and facilities to report harm or discrimination. The bottom of the landing page links to our latest news items, with the three most recent articles appearing in a carousel, and quick links to the Directorate’s various social media channels.
University College Cork (UCC)
Based in the heart of Cork city UCC has more than 24,000 students and over 2,700 staff. Recently ranked 62 of 1,406 universities, UCC has a world wide reputation as do their graduates who have gone on to have impressive careers. Their D&I landing pages include:
UCC makes every effort to mark D&I events such as World Down Syndrome Day, Refugee Week, or Equality week. In addition the university also recently unveiled a portrait of the late cancer awareness campaigner Vicky Phelan, who graduated from the university.
Like others UCC have specific social media feeds, contact info and phone number. While their Equality Committee comprises more than 20 staff and students from within the college. In addition to speak out tools and guidelines and policies around sexual violence and Harassment .
In addition to their Race Equality Forum which brings a cross section of different races and cultures within the university to have an open forum to discuss issues within the university. This includes the university being awarded a Sanctuary University, providing scholarships to athletes from these groups or welcoming members of the Ukrainian population.
They also fund smaller projects for under-represented groups such as Muslims in UCC, Members of the Travelling Community or certain areas of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. In addition, their vast gender identity policies promote inclusive communication while providing resources and support to students and staff alike.
Based in Belfield in Dublin UCD is one of Ireland’s most prestigious and largest colleges having over “38,000 students drawn from 152 countries, including over 5,000 students based at locations outside of Ireland.” and 2,100 staff supporting them. Their EDI page is easily available and details everything you need to know about what is going on in the college in terms of EDI
UCD societies are well known throughout the country. In more recent years, societies have expanded and specific groups have been created to ensure that underrepresented groups have a place in the college to meet like minded people and celebrate their commonality together. These groups include neurodiversity, multiculturalism and gender equality. While they also offer a specific EDI in HE (Higher Education) elearning course which equips learns with the basics of EDI and its importance within the college
The college has an extensive EDI training menu to choose from for staff and students from unconscious bias training, to parenting advice and stress management to name a few. They also have elearning courses on mental health, including a steering committee, additional resources and suicide prevention tips.
Their periodic Discussion Cafe’s brings students and staff together to discuss a particular topic, while their Dignity and Respect Ambassadors are student champions who are role models that foster a respectful and welcoming environment at UCD.
Formerly National University of Ireland Galway, The University of Galway is home to 18,000 students and 2,500 staff. Located in the centre of Galway city they have students from over 100 countries attending there. The college builds on its links to local employers and leverages their environment with the Atlantic Ocean, The Burren and Connemara being near by to ensure that their research IT and business minds get the most well rounded education that they can.
The university hosts a wide range of events to celebrate and inform students about different areas of EDI, including female empowerment, people with disabilities and women in STEM initiatives. This also includes career workshops where under-represented groups can find out more on programmes that can make accessing work easier for them.
One of the biggest strategic priorities the university has in the area of EDI and science and engineering. This means that the university has a number of programmes designed to attract under-represented students to the subject and then support members of those groups once they’re in the courses.
The University supports all aspects of the LGBT+ with their “it starts with a name” initiative which “The College Science and Engineering is committed to fostering an environment which actively promotes social and educational inclusion, embraces individuality, and celebrates the richness of our diverse community. The correct use of a person’s name can deepen their sense of belonging.”
Their Student Networks allows the university to celebrate all the different areas of EDI and it also allows their students to find their tribe amongst their fellow students. There is extensive training available for staff in the area which allows for ongoing learning in these areas.
Based in the heart of Limerick city, UL is home to 17,000 students with 1,800 staff. The college was established in 1972 and today it is spread across two campuses, has links with local employers and has world class facilities both within the learning on campus, however it is also well known for its world class sports facilities. In terms of their EDI page:
They have a vast array of events within the EDI landscape whether that be awareness days or important days in all religious faiths.
The importance of the inclusion of trans and other members of the LGBTQI+ communities can be seen on their Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy Booklet or the One-hour training sessions on the ABC’s of LGBTQ+, in addition to their staff and staff networks for the community and Pride festival celebrations.
There is a huge emphasis on gender equality and female empowerment within the college. Their Any Time of the Month campaign came out of an Enactus Ireland Programme and provides Free Sanitary products available in the following bathrooms, while they also offer mother and baby rooms in a variety of locations throughout the college. In addition they also have a policy on breastfeeding entitlement at work
UL’s commitment to race equality and anti-racism campaigns can be seen throughout the college having a Ethnic Diversity Forum while also taking part in the Speak Out tool that others in the article have also implemented