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Maynooth University and Dundalk Institute of Technology receive Quality stamp of approval
• Maynooth University demonstrates national leadership in access, transfer and progression of students
• Dundalk IT noted for its excellent student/staff communication and proactive approach to learning and assessment within a diverse student body
 
Maynooth University (MU) and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) have successfully completed a review as part of quality checks conducted by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the state agency responsible for the external quality assurance of further and higher education and training in Ireland.
 
Through its CINNTE cycle of reviews, QQI assesses and reports on how effectively all 19 publicly-regulated higher education institutions are maintaining and enhancing quality in education.  The reviews explore how institutions have improved their teaching, learning and research systems, and how well institutions have aligned with their own mission, quality indicators and benchmarks.  Reports on University College Dublin and University of Limerick are to follow in 2020.
 
Two separate panels of national and international education experts conducted a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the quality assurance procedures of each institution, delivering commendations on examples of good practice which were seen to deliver impact for students and staff, and making recommendations on areas for improvement in the coming years.
 
Maynooth University was commended on:
 
• Developing a strong culture of self-examination that allows for continual improvement and quality assurance on all of its programmes
• Developing a talented leadership team as well as a loyal and talented student-centred academic and administrative staff 
• Developing an innovative undergraduate curriculum, with robust evaluation plans, and an innovative structured PhD programme
• Pioneering its new Strategic Plan which has built-in quality assurance measures
• National leadership in its approach to Access, Transfer, and Progression of students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels
 
The expert panel recommended that MU focus on the following areas for improvement:
 
• Addressing infrastructure issues such as availability of informal learning spaces and staffing
• Addressing staff workload management issues by developing a fair and consistent model
• Creating a more robust system for staff training, development, and succession
• Improving its information management platform as well as its capacity for data analysis to delivery on its Strategic Plan
• Producing a more comprehensive system for collecting and using student feedback on courses, teaching and the student experience and for providing regular feedback to students on how their input has been used
 
Dundalk Institute of Technology was commended on:
 
• Communicating the strategic goals of its AMBITION institutional strategy internally to Schools
• The relationship and communication between staff and students, which aid the close community feel of the campus, in addition to the proactive response of staff to delivering on learning assessment strategies to suit the diversity of learners 
• Using research outputs in the delivery of taught programmes
• Enhancing quality by collecting and responding to formal and informal feedback, and monitoring results
• Improving teaching performance and student learning through the use of teaching and learning tools such as Masters in Learning and Teaching (MALT) or Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Moodle
 
Areas identified in which DkIT could make improvements were:
 
• Potentially including support units in the academic programme review process to enhance and add to the information available
• Reconsidering the framework for the Institution’s governance of quality assurance in light of how far the framework supports the objectives in its new strategic plan
• Leveraging the success of research activity to increase engagement with local industry
• Prioritisation of the needs of the local community and industry
• Simplifying and streamlining policies and procedures in line with the institution’s strategic plan 
 
Padraig Walsh, CEO of QQI remarked,
 
“The QQI CINNTE reviews, conducted by national and international experts, rigorously evaluate the quality of education provision across the entirety of a higher education institution.  They provide a useful tool for students, allowing them to evaluate and have confidence in the quality of the education they are receiving.  QQI commends the whole-hearted engagement of our HEIs with the expert panels, the examples of good practice which are highlighted and the spirit in which the recommendations are adopted following review.  These engagements underscore the centrality of the student learning experience to the teaching and learning agenda.”
 
MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY
 
 “The QQI review is an important and worthwhile exercise that combines institutional self-evaluation and external expert review to reflect on the quality of our public universities. We at Maynooth University are grateful to QQI and the independent review team for their professionalism, for their thorough engagement with staff and students, and for their affirming commendations and helpful recommendations, which will be very beneficial as we implement our current strategic plan. The report recognises Maynooth University as ‘sincerely student-centred,’ with ‘an innovative curricular culture, focused on quality and national need.’ It also recognises our strong research culture supported by effective research institutes and our ‘national leadership’ in widening participation at both undergraduate and postgraduate. I am very grateful to all involved in this very useful process.”
Professor Philip Nolan, President, Maynooth University
 
“The Review Team was deeply impressed by the talented, loyal team at Maynooth University, by its student-centred culture, by its commitment to quality assurance and enhancement, and by its intelligent strategy of growth to evolve - albeit at times in the face of serious budgetary constraints - into being a full research and teaching partner in the University system of Ireland.”
John Bassett, President Emeritus, Clark University and Chair of MU Review Panel
 
DUNDALK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
 
“Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) was delighted to take part in the recent Institutional Review which was conducted by QQI and we welcome the subsequent report and its findings. We are particularly pleased with the recognition of the ‘excellent communication between students and teaching staff’ at DkIT which is testament to our student-centric approach to teaching and learning and is a crucial component of our open and welcoming ‘campus culture’. The report also acknowledges the strong links between research and teaching, our deep commitment to serving the cross-border region and the effectiveness of the programmatic review process in ensuring academic programmes are evaluated to meet local and global needs.
 
We thank QQI for its recommendations, particularly around the streamlining of our policies and procedures, extending external engagement with regional industry and the prioritisation of research to positively impact local communities and industry within North Leinster South Ulster, in line with the DkIT AMBITION. We will use these recommendations to continue to enhance quality and competitiveness within our Institute and to inform the DkIT 2020-23 Strategic Plan which will be published in December.”
Michael Mulvey, PhD, President, Dundalk Institute of Technology
 
“During the site visit at DkIT, we experienced a high level of engagement and enthusiastic interactions of staff, students and internal and external stakeholders. Together with the willingness of the institutional staff to reflect on their operations and on our recommendations, it made this review a good learning experience for members of the review team as well. We hope the institution will find the review report a helpful guide to excellence.”
Marc Vandewalle, Vice Chancellor of the University College Leuven-Limberg and Chair of the DkIT Review Team
 
To read the Maynooth University CINNTE report in full, click here.
To read a summary quality profile for Maynooth University, click here.
 
To read the Dundalk Institute of Technology CINNTE report in full, click here.
To read a summary quality profile for Dundalk Institute of Technology, click here.

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