Generating a reputation on the international stage is the key these days to securing those vital foreign investments from abroad, but also the gateway to ensuring a steady flow of foreign students to the University.
Deeks believes, “UCD’s reputation abroad, where people know it, is very good. The issue is that it is not widely known. The people that have had contact with UCD know how good it is. There is that dichotomy.”
He reflects that this is the first stumbling block that all colleges struggle with and that UCD’s reputation will gain momentum when the strategy for 2020 is in full effect.
“When we go through developing the new strategy to 2020, then we will be looking particularly at the international strand of that and assuring the things we do internationally are going to ensure that the University becomes much more widely and better known.
“That is one of the challenges of moving up the rankings, of improving this reputation and to have reputation you need to be known. It is a great University, we need more people to know about it.”
UCD students have shared sentiments in the past that efforts focused on improving the reputation have resulted in the domestic affairs being ignored. This is a problem Deeks is acutely aware.
“The internationalisation should always be complimentary to what we do here in Dublin on the main campus. So all the globalisation activities, in the end should support what is going on here and should support the education of our domestic students.
“I will be looking, as we develop this next strategy, to ensure the strategy is integrated. What we do in terms of internationalisation, what we do in terms of research all supports in terms of what we’re doing in education and student experience.
“Exactly what that will look like, will have to develop together as the institution, but I’m convinced that internationalisation is necessary, but it needs to compliment the experience of the home students and bring benefits to the campus.”
With regards to improving UCD’s placing in international university rankings such as the World University Rankings release by Times Higher Education, Deeks also feels that, like the internationalisation complimenting efforts domestically, the rankings must be improved upon by focusing on achieving excellence in all areas.
“For UCD, I see us pursuing excellence in all activities, the rankings being a key performance indicator that follows, rather than something we focus on. If we are concentrating on excellence in student experience, excellence in education, excellence in research, then the ranking will follow.”
When addressing the major challenges faced by UCD in terms of boosting its international reputation, Deeks draws the discussion back to following through other national efforts such as addressing the funding of third-level in Ireland.
“We need to get our funding for universities right, such that we can compete in that international space. Clearly we want to attract the best academics from around the world to come and teach our students, to do research and contribute to the Irish economy. It’s more the challenges are domestic, so we can compete internationally.”
He continues, “In terms of the international market, again, the challenges are that other countries are putting much more resources into their higher education and the developing countries see higher education as an important part of their economic growth.
“Therefore they are funding it very well and putting great facilities in place. So, increasingly, we will be challenged by the higher education systems in those developing countries.”