UCD recently released their strategy document for the period 2020-2024. Named ‘Rising to the Future’ this document’s overall aim is to continue to flourish in an “age of unprecedented opportunity and challenge”. The strategy is based around four central themes that are said to shape every activity the university engages in. The strategy is based around a forward-pointing arrow where strategic themes, key enablers and core objectives all facilitate the attainment of strategic goals.

In a similar way to their previous strategy UCD fail to present a clear, precise and explicit document of their five-year vision. They are once again awfully ambiguous; they strive for non-numerical goals that are simply immeasurable and un-specific. Although there is the odd numerical goal here and there, it seems UCD’s only strategy for the next five years is to remain un-accountable and arcane. 

Theme 1 is about Creating a Sustainable Global Society; UCD wishes to be a “living lab for a sustainable community” by engaging in research which advances sustainable development goals. 

The basis of Theme 2 is UCD’s aim to Transform through Digital Technology. UCD believes the continuing advancement of digital technology from AI to cloud computing will allow the university to pursue anticipated or unexpected opportunities and challenges. The university wishes to continue to be recognised as an innovator.

The third theme is about Building a Healthy World. UCD plans to utilise the One Health concept as well as building on the Healthy UCD initiative by making health and well-being programmes available to all. 

UCD strives to understand human thinking through their fourth theme; Empowering Humanity. Through this they will be more able to overcome challenges such as mental health or isolationism. As Ireland’s Global University UCD also wishes to further advance this agenda of a diversified student body.

ucd lake

In order to achieve its vision UCD has put in place four core objectives to pursue during the five-year period. For each core objective UCD have defined key performance indicators and targets. These core objectives are focused around topics ranging from research and innovation to students and faculty, educational experience and international engagement are also addressed within these objectives.

In order for UCD to achieve the vision outlined in their themes and objectives they have identified six key enablers. Recruiting additional staff members and building world class facilities are among these enablers. The university also wish to generate additional non-exchequer income in order to be capable to pursue these enablers.

With the reveal of this strategy UCD has also published a document outlining the results of their previous one. This document is brimming with justifiable achievement, backed up by numerical data which prove improvements have been made. However, five years ago when the strategy was first published these future achievements were solely goals in words and not in numbers; this proves that in outlining their vision, UCD love to assemble a bundle of vague goals and then hope such goals can be proven by numerical results five years later. 

For a strategy to hold merit and esteem it must provide legitimate numerical goals that are strived for and hope to be achieved. Therefore when the strategy has run its course, after five years in this case, such goals can be compared against the actual results. This will allow one to establish whether the strategy has been a legitimate success or an unfortunate failure, the following strategy can then be altered to allow for extra emphasis on certain aspects of vision which were not fully achieved in the previous strategy. UCD are taking an easy route in portraying their vision, so they’re not held culpable for any failures.


Adam O’Sullivan – Reporter