Professor Gerry Byrne, Vice President and Dean of Engineering, University College Dublin, Ireland, has many fond memories about India. “India is a very interesting country. The pace with which the country is progressing in terms of infrastructure, especially in the higher education, is simply amazing," says Byrne. Excerpts from an interview:
UCD accounts for more than 30% of international students in Ireland. It boasts of having students from 122 countries across the world. Why do you prefer more international students?
We want to create a global outlook among the students who come to study at UCD. This is possible only through the interaction and communication of the students from various cultures. Earlier, we were not international. Realizing the need of forming a global perspective, we introduced a strategy called “Forming Global Minds”. Through this strategy, we provide an opportunity to the students to gain international experience by studying and working together. Among the international students, we have preference for Indian students as they have the best technical and mathematical skills.
Do you have any specific scholarships schemes for Indian students?
Yes, we have certain scholarships for Indian students to make UCD their first choice when thinking of higher education abroad. We have 57 scholarships for Indian students worth â¬250,000. This includes UCD Global Excellence Undergraduate Scholarships that provides 50% of the tuition fees and UCD Global Undergraduate Scholarships that provides â¬5,000 for students who opt for science subjects and â¬2,500 for students who opt for Business, Social Science & Arts Programmes.
What are the highlights of your academic system?
The key component of our system is leadership. In the conventional system, the science and engineering graduates remain as science and engineering graduates. The leaders come from different fields all together. But we design the system in a particular way that we incorporate leadership in the curriculum itself. We believe that leadership is something that the students get introduced to when they join the college.
Another major highlight is our student centric education system in which the students have better interaction with staff. We have “interactive learning rooms” with a tutorial kind of learning environment. These rooms are equipped with large circular tables and screens and can accommodate nine students at a time. The teacher can walk around teaching and interacting with students.
Please tell us about a few of your programmes that are novel and could be considered as a total shift from the conventional type of programmes in engineering and architecture.
In 2013, we introduced a number of new courses that are a major shift from the conventional academic programmes. One such programme is Materials Science and Engineering. For the students from India, I feel that it’s a very relevant course because in future, many products will be made of materials. For example, titanium is used to produce medical equipments for body because of its biocompatibility. The knowledge about these is very significant as these are the merging fields.
We also have the system of built-around modules where students can form his or her programme by mixing up various modules of his or her choice.
What are the career prospects for students who graduate from UCD? Do you have any industrial tie-ups?
We have tie-ups with major industries in Ireland. Our students do research programmes with various industries during their study period itself. We also have a very strong placement scheme. Apart from that, there is a skill shortage in Ireland. So the companies are looking for the best students who pass out from our university to be a part of their organization. This again provides a very good opportunity to the students. Another major advantage is that many of the top industries have their headquarters and offices in Ireland. For example, Facebook and Google have their European headquarters in Dublin.
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