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University for All Implementation 2021-22

University for All Implementation 2021-22

In this article we highlight four implementation workshops developed and delivered in four programme areas this past academic year: Architecture, Planning & Environment Policy, Social Sciences & Law, Veterinary Medicine and Medicine. You’ll see that the implementation workshops have varied and been tailored to suit the priorities and needs of the different disciplines. University for All implementation workshops all include a self-assessment exercise based on the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions. The Toolkit, developed by UCD Access & Lifelong Learning, is a key building block in the University for All initiative. 

University for All Implementation
The steps to implementation include:

  1. Getting support  from the Academic or Administrative Senior Leader e.g. College Principal, Dean, Director
  2. Establishing a Change Team to drive the project locally, including key colleagues e.g. VP Equality Diversity & Inclusion, VP Teaching & Learning etc.
  3. Planning a University for All Workshop (with support of the Senior Leader and Change Team). Previous experience has shown that attendance can be maximised when the invitation is disseminated by the local senior leader. The workshop is planned with consideration of local needs and priorities and can include:
    • Exploration of Widening Participation Data to include: Admissions, Participation, Progression, Completion, Outward Mobility and Graduate Outcomes. Change teams determine which data is most useful and how it should be presented (e.g. intersectionality of access groups, gender balance etc.)
    • Engagement with the Student Voice. UCD Access Leaders can offer their perspective on inclusion in UCD providing insight into the good practice currently ongoing and exploring how local areas can improve their practice.
    • Universal Design/Inclusive Practice training and development. UCD Access & Lifelong Learning can provide training in Universal Design and Inclusive Practice. Areas for development should be determined by the Widening Participation Representative and their Change Team.
    • Toolkit Self-Assessment. This is the most important element of the University for All workshop. The self-assessment exercise assists with identification of areas of good practice and areas which should be prioritised for immediate or short/long term action. 
  4. Following the workshop an action plan is created identifying local University for All projects to be progressed. This action plan can then be workshopped with the University for All project team before being presented to the local Senior Leader for approval. 

This year we continued to support our WP Leads to host University for All workshops in their disciplines/Schools/Colleges. Online facilitation helped to maximise attendance by faculty and professional staff as well as student panels where they were included. In these online workshops the Digital Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions allowed efficient capture of the output from the interactive workshops. The output from the workshops captured in the Digital Toolkit was shared with Widening Participation Leads and their local change teams immediately following the workshop facilitating local implementation planning. The workshops this academic year examined the transition of students back to campus and looked at assessment, classroom practices as well as support provision. Further information on these workshops can be found below. If you’d like to discuss the workshops please reach out to the relevant WP Lead or the University for All project team. 

UCD School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy, Facilitated by Associate Professor Brendan Williams, September 2021

Hosted by Head of School, Dr Eoin O’Neill, and WP Lead Associate Professor Brendan Williams, the School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy held a successful University for All implementation workshop before teaching began for the 2021-22 academic year. The workshop was attended by 28 faculty and professional staff from the school and included an overview of the School’s widening participation data and updates in relation to Teaching & Learning, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and International Students. This was followed by the Toolkit self-assessment exercise which focused on visibility of EDI in the curriculum, students as partners in their learning, choice/variety of assessment, and inclusive teaching materials and practices. The importance of accessible teaching materials was discussed as was the unique nature of the studio modules provided by the School. Work has since been ongoing throughout the academic year and has been strengthened with the addition of Alice Clancy as a University for All Faculty Partner focusing on inclusion in the studio environment. 

UCD College of Social Sciences & Law, Facilitated by Dr Graham Finlay, November 2021

In Autumn 2021 the College of Social Sciences & Law hosted a well-attended University for All workshop, supported by the local Widening Participation Committee and senior leadership. The workshop was planned carefully in collaboration with colleagues from the College who attended a pre-session meeting where the self-assessment statements from the Toolkit were selected based on relevance to all colleagues and the College’s priorities. The workshop included an overview of the College’s Widening Participation data and a student panel who shared their experiences of inclusion in the College. The students on the panel were from a variety of programmes and access groups within the College. As seen at other workshops, the student panel provided insights which shaped the conversations which followed. The areas of focus in the self-assessment exercise included staff training, inclusive assessment, flexible teaching e.g. hybrid, student awareness of supports and services and feedback provision for students. Following the workshop the College’s change team have now created an action plan for the coming years based on the output from the workshop and other implementation actions including student focus groups. 

UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, Facilitated by Dr Arun Kumar, December 2021

A brief session was facilitated by Dr Arun Kumar with a small group of his colleagues from the Veterinary Biosciences section in December 2021. Focusing on assessment, attendees discussed five statements from the Toolkit for Inclusive Higher Education Institutions. Attendees discussed the successes in the School in embedding continuous assessment and avoiding 100% terminal examinations. Grading guidelines were discussed and the need for additional training for staff on the use of these. The Grading Guidelines apply to students with Specific Learning Difficulties who should not be penalised for errors in spelling and grammar in timed exams, except where those errors create ambiguity in relation to the answers provided. The group concluded that a self-paced online training session would be beneficial for the School of Veterinary Medicine and perhaps UCD colleagues more broadly. Additional workshops in other sections may follow; Dr Kumar continues to consider the most effective method of implementation in the School of Veterinary Medicine with consideration for the unique characteristics of the discipline. 

UCD School of Medicine, Facilitated by Associate Professor Suzanne Donnelly, January 2022

The University for All change team in UCD School of Medicine, Associate Professor Suzanne Donnelly, Dr Tom Flanagan, Assistant Professor Marion Maher and Dr Michaela Davis worked together to plan and facilitate a workshop for 60 colleagues in week 1 of teaching in the Spring Trimester. The attendees included faculty and professional staff from across the School and the attendance demonstrated the importance the School is placing on University for All implementation and improving access and inclusion for all students in the School of Medicine. The workshop included an overview of the data by Associate Professor Donnelly followed by a student panel and input on Universal Design for Learning by Dr Tom Flanagan, University for All Faculty Partner. This panel of students from various stages within the School’s programmes and from various access groups provided invaluable insights which guided the discussions which followed in the Toolkit self-assessment exercise. The statements focused on for the exercise provoked discussion of staff training availability and engagement, inclusive assessment, and mentoring for students on professional programmes. The change team received positive feedback on the workshop which was the first of its kind facilitated in the discipline. 

What’s next?

Last summer we published the (opens in a new window)University for All Implementation Plans for programme areas in UCD. These plans are available on the Registrar’s intranet for all staff and faculty of UCD to access. This summer we will be publishing an update from all programme areas on their implementation actions this academic year and their plans and priorities for 2022-23. 

Remember, if you’d like to be involved in University for All or you have an idea for implementation, please get in touch with your Widening Participation Representative.

University for All

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: UniversityforAll@ucd.ie