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Perceptions of UCD’s Identity

Perceptions of UCD’s Identity

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Perceptions of UCD’s Identity

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  1. Perceptions of UCD’s Identity Prepared for UCD May 2005


  3. INTRODUCTION • Findings of qualitative research on perceptions of UCD’s identity • Research conducted among key stakeholders: • Staff • Recent graduates • Alumni • Students: Irish and international • Prospective students • Opinion leaders • Research took place between 11th and 25th May

  4. OBJECTIVESTo enable us to understand… • How UCD in its current incarnation is perceived by various stakeholders • Where these stakeholders feel the current strengths and weaknesses of UCD lie • How the stakeholders feel the University can be developed and grown in the future • The extent of the gap between where UCD is now and where it can be/should be in the future

  5. OBJECTIVESTo enable us to understand… • Areas that require attention in order to realise UCD’s future identity, both internally and in terms of marketing activity • Reactions to various possibilities for the name and corporate identity that could encapsulate a rebranded UCD


  7. THE STAFF SURVEY • A total number of 662 responses • 22% of the UCD staff population • Attitudes to UCD are generally positive • But there are concerns about its future direction • These were most often expressed qualitatively through open-ended answers • Or in doubts about the university’s international profile

  8. SUMMARY OF STAFF TYPES:How the respondents break down

  9. SUMMARY OF YEARS OF SERVICE:How the respondents break down











  20. A LARGE AND VARIED CONSTITUENCY • Each group of stakeholders has a different perspective on UCD • It would be simplistic to offer a summary position • And it may be difficult to find a one-size-fits-all solution to the issues facing UCD • But a clear direction will accomplish much • It will demonstrate confidence and leadership on the part of UCD

  21. SOME COMMON THEMES • Some common themes do emerge, however; • 1. UCD is not seen to have presented a confident view of itself to the outside world • Addressing this issue will immediately raise its profile • 2. The UCD name and crest are valuable aspects of the university’s heritage • Changing these runs the risk of creating unhelpful impressions of the university’s standing

  22. SOME COMMON THEMES • 3. UCD’s strength lies in it being more than the sum of its ‘parts’ • Neglecting any one of its schools or departments can threaten the whole • 4. UCD has not been leading to the extent that would be expected of Ireland’s biggest university • Its size and its quality means this diffidence is unbecoming • It needs to start behaving the way it wants to be perceived

  23. PERSPECTIVES ON UCDThe varied intensity of focus Opinion Leaders/ the outside world Graduates & Alumni Prospective students International students Postgraduates Staff

  24. PERSPECTIVES ON UCDThe varied intensity of focus • Perceptions of UCD depend on which end of the telescope people are looking through • The ‘long’ view places UCD within its societal context • The university is assessed on its contribution to the life of the society • The ‘near’ view places UCD within its academic context • The university is assessed on its comparison with other centres of learning

  25. PERSPECTIVES ON UCDThe need for an ‘all-in’ view • There is a balance to be struck between the two viewpoints • Changes made at the instigation of either set of opinions could have radical knock-on effects • The concerns of staff are often internal • They may not be felt ‘on the ground’ • The interests of the outside world might ignore certain academic imperatives • Either way, the status of the university could be compromised

  26. UCD’S STRENGTHS • UCD needs to have faith in its own strong points • It has a diverse and rich educational offering • It has a modern and vibrant campus • It offers an attractive university lifestyle • It provides high standards of teaching • Some of its faculties and departments are world class • It is the biggest university in Ireland • It is a part of one of Europe’s most exciting cities

  27. UCD’S WEAKNESSES • Arguably, a lack of self-belief is UCD’s greatest weakness • It acts with one eye on the competition, be it Trinity or Oxford • This only serves to perpetuate a sense of inferiority • UCD needs to stake out its own territory • And recruit staff and students on its own terms

  28. UCD’S WEAKNESSES • There is a lack of consistency in the UCD offer • While some faculties are world class, others are have a much lower profile • Some schools are heavily promoted and marketed • Others are seen to be left in the background • If the university’s profile is to be consolidated, UCD needs a reputation for all-round excellence • Recognition will follow on from this process • The basic offer needs to be in place first

  29. THE IRISH UNIVERSITY MARKET Academic Reputation UCD DCU Trinity UL NUI Maynooth UCC NUIG Modern Historic

  30. THE IRISH UNIVERSITY MARKET • “I would probably value a degree from NUI or TCD a bit more than one from an IT such as Waterford. I would value an old-fashioned degree from UCC, UCG, UCD or Trinity, and I don’t really distinguish between them.”

  31. THE GLOBAL UNIVERSITY MARKETThe place of UCD • “I asked a friend on campus and he told me UCD was the biggest college in Ireland, and so had a better reputation for more events and better social things going on all the time.” • “When I looked it up on the web I found out that the Quinn Business School is ranked among the top ten European business schools for German employers.” • UCD has the wherewithal to hold its own in the international market • But it needs to present a clear position for itself

  32. UCD: A question of confidence? • Is there a sense in which UCD suffers from an Irish inferiority complex? • It has not acted like a university that wants to export itself • It is as if UCD missed out on the Celtic Tiger mood • Now it is committed to playing a role in an international context • But it lacks the courage of its convictions • It seems almost embarrassed by what it has to offer

  33. UCD:A question of confidence? • “I don’t get the impression that it’s trying to get out of this position – it’s like Shelbourne where it’s content to stay in the Irish league. In the future Dublin is going to have to compete on a global scale, and I don’t think it’s doing that. I think it (UCD) needs to set its sights higher.”


  35. STAFFViews on the current state of UCD • “UCD is a mixture between excitement and demoralisation.” • “UCD has exceptional potential. Realising that potential is a big issue.” • “It seems to me that UCD is more concerned about how it compares with other universities than with how well it does its core task of providing a third level education.”

  36. STUDENTSThe commercial and academic agendas • “I wouldn’t like to see it get any more commercial, because then the money just goes to the same few faculties or institutes, and places like Arts don’t get a look in. And I think that would be to the detriment of the university as a whole – a proper university needs to be strong in all its areas, and Arts is really important from that point of view.” (P/G in Conway Institute) • “Primary research is what makes a university. Non-profit making, or not necessarily financially viable, and I think there’s a place for that and universities provide that place. It brings its own skills, different intellects and different interactions….”

  37. INTERNATIONAL STUDENTSLack of awareness of UCD • “If you went home and said you had spent a year in Cambridge they would say oh you are great, but if you said you spent a year in UCD, they would say, was it nice in Dublin.” • UCD is not widely recognised abroad • But there is nothing about its offer to stop it becoming so • International students have all enjoyed their time in UCD • They are now ambassadors for the university • They would be happy to see it take a more confident stance

  38. GRADUATES & ALUMNIA broader perspective • Graduates offer an extremely valuable viewpoint • They show us ‘life after university’ • They put some of the concerns about identity in perspective • They remember their time in UCD with fondness • There is little feeling that their education was inferior in any way • But what matters in their lives is the qualification rather than where it was obtained from • “it doesn’t matter what you do in university as long as you go…and I believe that.”

  39. OPINION LEADERS • These respondents also take a broader view of UCD’s place in the world • They see it as playing an important role in Irish society • They often know where its particular strengths lie • But they do not hear enough about its moves to improve its profile and its reputation • And they see a need for it to be more proactive

  40. OPINION LEADERS • They see the raw material as being there • But UCD needs to act like a leading university in the international context • If it is the case that they have a world class research profile that would be recognised by their peers, I don’t believe it is coming across in public. • These are also people who recognise certain commercial imperatives • But they do not see them as excluding academic integrity • “They’re one and the same thing.”


  42. UCDNot perfect, but… • The UCD name may not be perfect • Particularly in an international context • But it has a wealth of heritage and brand equity sown up in it • It should not be discarded lightly, if at all • “UCD is such a strong brand as a name – it’s like the GAA – so even though I’m not aware of the crest or all the colours – it’s not a huge problem. I know they think they’ve huge problems, but UCD is a strong brand name.”

  43. UCDA strong brand equity • Many people use UCD as a brand name • In much the same way as they use Trinity • When being formal, they expand on the abbreviation • This adds some gravitas and weight to the three letters

  44. NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND • While National University of Ireland might be an official designation, it conveys little sense of a brand • It is more akin to a product descriptor • It leaves people feeling cold • It also detracts from UCD’s status • It equates the other NUI colleges with UCD and so brings it down to their level rather than making it aspirational • UCD becomes a member of a larger team instead of a club in its own right

  45. NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND • “They already have a better standard than Maynooth, so they should be getting Maynooth to live up to them rather than the other way around.” • “To me it’s always been UCD. I’ve been conscious of NUI Dublin, but I think it would just confuse people. I could see merit in it outside Ireland, because the National part of it has kudos, but then you have NCI or NCAD…I just wouldn’t mess with the brand equity in UCD.”

  46. OLLSCOIL COLÁISTE, BAILE ATHA CLIATH • There is an affection for an Irish designation • But it should be ‘as well as’ rather than a stand-alone title • The confusion for overseas students would probably be too difficult to surmount • It also speaks of a patriotic ‘fervour’ to some • This may no longer be appropriate or helpful • Irish people like to see the Irish name on literature and logos, but they are unlikely to object to its absence • ‘Dublin’ speaks sufficiently of UCD’s national credentials

  47. UC DUBLIN • UC Dublin does have some merit • It points to the location for the benefit of overseas students • It reflects the naming system used for some universities in the United States • It is less warmly received by the home market • Once again it can sound like a division of a larger organisation, e.g. the Dublin branch

  48. NEWMAN UNIVERSITY • Newman University is a less popular choice • It speaks of historical background - but only if you know who Newman was • Otherwise it can alter perceptions of the university almost entirely • “It sounds like one of those private colleges that say give us loads of money and we’ll give you a degree in two weeks.” • This is the antithesis of what UCD should be about

  49. NEWMAN UNIVERSITY • Newman University threatens to throw the baby out with the bathwater • If UCD was starting again it might be an option • But this option has no links with what is currently in existence • It would speak of the university trying to run away from its past • And this would damage perceptions of its academic standards rather than enhance them

  50. HIBERNIA UNIVERSITY • Hibernia University has similar issues as Newman University • It is a step too far • It also sounds too ‘Oirish’ • It has also been taken already by an online university • Once again these are unhelpful connotations for UCD • It says too much about its location and not enough about its core offer