Disappointment for UCD in Undergraduate Awards


There was disappointment for the 289 UCD applicants to the Undergraduate Awards of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as there was just one UCD student among the winners.

Eamonn Kennedy, a student of Physics, was the winner in his category for a paper he wrote entitled: ‘Vortex dipoles: ordered structures from chaotic flows’. Kennedy was the sole UCD recipient, in contrast with last year, in which eleven awards were presented to UCD students.

The awards were presented last night at the Royal Irish Academy, with former Irish President Mary Robinson attending as a guest of honour.

Programme manager Louise Hodgson told The University Observer that UCD had the second highest number of submissions to awards, with a total of 289.

“Last year we had 489 applications submitted from UCD, so there was quite a drop this year,” she says. “But I can think of a few factors for that. First of all, we opened quite late for the 2010 programme; we opened this year in February, whereas for the 2009 programme, where there were higher numbers, we would have been open all year round.”

UCC had the highest number of submissions to the awards, with 317 applications.

Hodgson explained that the submission process has changed since the inaugural competition: “Last year we were only open to universities, while this year it’s universities and ITs.”

Hodgson explained to The University Observer about the submission and judging processes: “The categories are divided up into different subject areas, and the likes of Law and English are very popular given that there are studied by a lot of people who do essays. The submissions consist of essays or projects. We have a word limit of 5,000 words for various reasons, mostly to do with the judging process, so that we’re not comparing essays of 2,000 words to dissertations of 50,000 words.”

The submissions have to have been already graded and submitted as part of coursework, and must have received a high grade: “It has to have received a 2:1 or above.”

“From there, we arrange a panel of judges. We ask for lecturers and professors from around the country,” she says, “so it’s as fair as possible. They’re recognised in their fields, and the panels can have three lecturers and some can have 13.”

Hodgson explained that each judging panel has a chairperson and that the panel is decided based on the topics and nature of the submissions that the panel will be judging. “It’s a fairly long process to try and pick a winner out of all of them, but thankfully we’ve got some really great judges who put aside their summer to do it for us.”

Applications for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards of Ireland and Northern Ireland are currently being accepted. Details are available on www.undergraduateawards.com.