UCD Global: Welcoming international staff and students

With a huge urban campus, state-of-the-art facilities and the largest student body of any university in Ireland, UCD welcomes hundreds of new international students every year and contributes significantly to Dublin’s diversity.

UCD prides itself on being Ireland’s global university. And it has international campuses and strong links to academic institutions in locations as far-flung as Beijing and Malaysia.

It also has a portfolio of over 500 institutional partnerships in over 90 countries. This allows its students and staff to engage in exchange programmes for research, studies, internships, field trips and volunteering.

The benefits of going global

Around 1,000 students avail of these opportunities every year. This allows them to broaden their mindset in terms of working interculturally and responding to challenges in their society.

These connections are also imperative for sharing research and developing cross-cultural skills within teams. Both of which are key to succeeding in an increasingly diverse workforce. Building these skills during university proves to be beneficial after graduation when students move on to work in various fields.

UCD Goes Global - With a huge urban campus and state-of-the-art facilities, University College Dublin welcomes hundreds of international students each year.

Caroline Mangan, Global Experience Manager at UCD Global, says: “I think the best thing about UCD at present is how it has embraced global engagement.”

She continues: “It has embraced opportunities to learn from students and staff overseas [and] to channel that learning back into society here in Ireland – not just on campus.”

UCD is a place that allows you to unite the commonality in diversity.

As she sees it, the university has created lots of opportunities for both staff and students to express their identities and interests – no matter what culture or social group they belong to.

“There’s a huge push toward equality, diversity and inclusion in recent years and that has encouraged the integration of different cultures across the campus,” she says. “There’s a real desire to share that cultural difference, celebrate it, engage with it, learn about it.”

How UCD Global works

UCD Global is a department within UCD, which steers and guides the university’s global strategies. It plays a role in the likes of academic partnerships, international programmes and international student recruitment.

UCD Global aims to develop links by supporting a variety of university-wide collaborations. Any academic or professional member of staff in any school or college can propose an educational partnership or collaborative programme.

By doing this, UCD plans to bring the best of the world to Ireland – and the best of Ireland to the world.

Some of UCD’s international programmes

UCD has a wide variety of programmes which welcome international students to Dublin and provide Irish students with opportunities to head abroad.

The first Confucius Institute in Ireland, for example, was opened on UCD’s campus in 2006 to build stronger educational, cultural and industry links between Ireland and China.

The university also established its first Beijing-based awarding institution, as well as recruitment and alumni offices in India, Malaysia and the US.

Having so many nationalities on campus is just so amazing.

Then there’s the UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) programme. This registered charity was established in 2003 to facilitate international volunteering and development education programmes. UCDVO’s vision is for students to graduate with an understanding of global issues and inequality.

To do this, its programme includes a four-week placement overseas, as well as a structured series of educational workshops.

This allows students to gain all kinds of experience and witness the impact of global issues first-hand. Its current project locations include India, Haiti, Uganda, Tanzania and Nicaragua.

The Multicultural Employee Network

MENU is the Multicultural Employee Network of UCD (MENU). It provides a relaxed forum that brings members of the UCD community together to exchange ideas and promote multicultural awareness.

It runs regular events like coffee mornings, conferences, talks and quizzes – and all staff are welcome to join.

Dr. Arun Kumar, who is an assistant professor of cardiology and co-chair of MENU, firmly believes that multiculturalism is critical for every sector. In his experience, it helps facilitate effective integration and institutional collaboration.

It helps break students out of their norm.

Speaking about UCD’s diverse student body, Professor Kumar said: “In our vet school, which is very small, we have representations from over 50 different nationalities. We see the benefit of that diversity among our students… They get to learn about different cultures in addition to learning the veterinary profession.”

He points to a recent statistic from UCD’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Networks, which shows that 29% of UCD’s staff and students are international. “UCD is a place that allows you to unite the commonality in diversity,” he says.

With 25% of its students hailing from abroad, UCD is the number one destination for international students coming to Ireland. It even offers international scholarships. And, when it comes to staff, international academics make up a massive 32% of the university’s faculty.

UCD Goes Global - With a huge urban campus and state-of-the-art facilities, University College Dublin welcomes hundreds of international students each year.

What international students at UCD say

This diverse student base is one of the characteristics that makes UCD so unique. It exposes students to new experiences – at least that’s according to one past student.

In 2020, international student Colin Marchus came all the way from Idaho in the US to study biomedical engineering at UCD. So what was his favourite thing about studying in Dublin?

“The best thing about UCD is the people. They’re hard on you, but nice at the same time,” he says. “They will correct you when you’re wrong, but they’re doing it so that you can be better next time. It’s okay to make mistakes.”

Coming from the US to Dublin has exposed him to a lot more nationalities. “Being able to come to UCD from the US, I’ve realised the US isn’t the only thing there [is],” he says. “It helps break students out of their norm and introduces them to so many possibilities, new expectations, experiences and more variety.”

Societies can comfort international students when they are homesick.

Another student, Celine Dakik from Lebanon, spoke about her participation in societies. They’re her favourite part of international student life here at UCD.

As an auditor of Arab Society, she organised a ‘How To Flirt’ event with the other cultural societies so that students could discover new phrases and learn about different cultures in a fun way.

This is just one example of the kinds of activities and events that are available to UCD students.

Dakik says: “Societies can comfort international students when they are homesick, but also open up their minds to new cultures. Being able to balance between societies and academics so smoothly and having so many nationalities on campus is just so amazing.”

Ireland’s most international university

With 300,000 alumni across 165 countries, it’s clear to see why UCD has earned a reputation as Ireland’s most international university.

To learn more, visit UCD’s website.

Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.



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