UCD President Andrew Deeks has revealed there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of registered UCD alumni with Australian addresses on UCD’s alumni database. The news broke as Deeks returned to UCD from his childhood country, following UCD’s first ever alumni events in Australia.

Last year, there were 200 registered UCD alumni living in Australia. Deeks said that due to the ‘hard work by Nicole Black and her team in the Alumni Development Office and LinkedIn, that number has now expanded to approximately 2,500. From the conversations we have had while in Australia, that number is probably only the tip of the iceberg.’

Black explained to the Tribune how the work was carried out. They ran a social media campaign ‘in-house which focused on connecting with our alumni through Facebook and LinkedIn primarily.’ This was complemented with a ‘where are you now’ e-mails and also a direct mail campaign.

The Foundation contacted ‘all the Irish-Australian networks in Australia (this included the Irish Embassy) and asked them to reach out to their members on our behalf to see if any were UCD alumni – and asked them to update their details with us if they were. Finally we asked any of our on the ground alumni that we knew were in Australia to reach out to any of the contacts that they knew and asked them to update their details with us.’

Deeks’ trip to Australia saw him visit Perth and Melbourne, before ending in Sydney at the end of October. He attended events at the University of Western Australia, the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, and the Australian National University.

The main events in the tour were the reception evenings, with one held in each city. An estimated 300 alumni attended the three receptions. Deeks described them as ‘the most successful we have held outside of Ireland, excepting the US and the UK’, and claimed there was a ‘great interest amongst the participants in helping to grow the UCD network in Australia.’

Attendees at the events ‘ranged from graduates of 60 years standing to students currently enrolled with UCD but spending a semester with one of our Australian partner institutions.’ They got to watch the UCD highlights video for 2016/2017. Deeks told staff that ‘attendees commented positively on the combination of the social, academic and update dimensions of the events.’ Black said the event ‘provided a very important opportunity for alumni to meet and mingle with other members of their exclusive alumni network.’

Deeks recalled that he gave an address in Perth on ‘Current Challenges and Opportunities for Irish Higher Education and for UCD’, and took part in panel discussions on ‘The View from Australia on Brexit’ in Melbourne, and ‘Challenges in Diversity’ in Sydney.

Deeks was accompanied on the tour by a number of academics and administrators, including Colin Scott, Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Professor David Fitzpatrick, Principal of UCD College of Engineering and Architecture, and Provost of the Beijing-Dublin International College (BDIC). UCD Alumni was represented by Black, and Sinead Dolan, the Associate Director of Alumni Relations.

Cian Carton – Editor