Impact & Opinions | Tionchar & Tuairimí

In Conversation With: Professor Becky Whay

In Conversation With: Professor Becky Whay

28 April 21
 | 14 MINS

NUI Galway’s Vice President International sat down with Cois Coiribe to talk about Global Galway and the strategy for the University’s place in the world.

NUI Galway’s International office, with Professor Becky Whay at the helm, is leading the new Global Galway project and charting new paths to building a deep and long lasting network around the world.

How can we best approach Equality, Diversity, Inclusion from the standpoint of our University’s values of Respect, Openness, Excellence and Sustainability?

Our values completely speak to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and when I think about that from an internationalisation standpoint openness is the number one on my list.

It’s the one I particularly champion. Openness is all about how we engage with everyone. Whether they are Irish, international, European, from elsewhere in the world, with whatever culture they come from, what religion they follow, what gender they are, whether they have disabilities, learning challenges and or are just straight frightened of coming to university.

I think, openness is all about how we make ourselves as accessible, as welcoming, as engaging and as great an experience for every single person who comes here, whether they’re staff or students, as we possibly can. Translating that into reality is definitely a lot of what the Global Galway project is all about.

To me openness is critical, but of course our full values come as a set and respectfulness, excellence and sustainability are equally critical.

There’s a dimension of sustainability, which is about institutional sustainability or organisational sustainability and internationalisation. Great universities are built on the foundation of internationalisation.


By international standards, how are we as university performing on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion?

We are doing OK. Over the past five years we’ve seen a huge growth in the number of international students in NUI Galway. And because we’ve grown our international student numbers, we have grown the diversity of culture.

We’ve enriched the learning environments that we have within the institution, and we, all of us, are learning about inclusion as we go through this growth in international representation within the University.

We’ve seen growth in internationalisation and with that comes a growth in our understanding and our learning about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion but it is definitely a journey and we’re really at the start of the journey.

Where I would like to see us going in the future is to continue to grow the number of international students and staff that we have within the University and the diversity of places that they come from.

The value of internationalisation is all about the how we enrich each other, how we learn from each other, how we include and provide opportunity to as many people as we possibly can.

The value of internationalisation is all about the how we enrich each other, how we learn from each other, how we include and provide opportunity to as many people as we possibly can.

Continuing on with The Global Galway Project and the mission to internationalise our university – what role does the commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion play?

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is everything to internationalisation. The role it plays is absolutely fundamental to us being able to internationalise well. That’s not just about growing our student numbers and recruiting staff, but making sure that in the process we grow diversity, we celebrate the cultural diversity, the different experiences people bring, the places that people come from and the experiences they come and share and the different views that they bring with them.

It’s also that those people who are coming to us from around the world have an opportunity to understand Ireland, to really mix and spend time with our Irish colleagues, within the University students and staff but also with the society and the community that surrounds us.

We need to make sure all of that works well together and, as you can you can tell from that, that it’s all about inclusion, it’s all about celebrating diversity.

So, if we are to become a truly international university what are the practical changes we will see in terms of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the coming years?

We need to think about how internationalisation enriches us as a university and then think about how we best enable that enrichment and utilise it.

It’s not just about having everyone in the classroom. It’s about bringing everyone into the educational experience, ensuring that in the classrooms we allow the space and the opportunity for people to share their experiences and share their views and for everyone to listen, to debate, discuss and learn from the cultural richness that comes with a diversified classroom.

The same applies to our staff environments. Each of us who comes here to work at NUI Galway brings with us experiences from where we’ve come that can help us think about the systems and processes we have in place, how we can update them, streamline them.

Equally that can help us have the discussions about Equality and Diversity and Inclusion. Are we doing enough? Are we recognizing the challenges that come with coming from different places in the world?

You mentioned research in your answer, so does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion offer opportunities for international research collaborations and, if so, how can such opportunities be best pursued in your view?

It is absolutely critical. It brings multiple perspectives to problems, especially where we’re thinking about real world questions and challenges. Bringing different perspectives and experiences is incredibly valuable, and really practical.

Increasingly, funding opportunities for research are very much directed towards multi-institution and multi-stakeholder teams. So, having international connections, having international staff with connections around the world, all of these things are about positioning us to be able to apply competitively for research funding in the future. And, practically, when we embark on collaborative research then it immediately positions us well.

One example of how we’re gearing up to support staff in this regard is through our ENLIGHT partnership. This is an EU funded network of nine European universities, of which we are a member, and it means that we’ve got a ready-made group of partners who are eager to work together.

It’s a wonderful model that speaks really well to our four core values and our mission as a university to be a university for society. It means that we can enable Galway, Galway City and County Council, Galway businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to create links with our partners across Europe.

Our next steps are going to be looking at that type of model and how we can create these sort of gateways in other parts of the world.

Global Galway ... It's moving the conversation about internationalisation away from being very focused on international student recruitment, and being too focused on international students as revenue generators, to really recognising that internationalisation needs to be at the heart of everything that we do.

Global Galway – what is it all about and what will the project entail in the next few years?

Global Galway is our way of framing a plan for Globalisation for NUI Galway’s future. It’s a fantastic and really exciting project which creates a vision for how we want to be.

It’s moving the conversation about internationalisation away from being very focused on international student recruitment, and being too focused on international students as revenue generators, to really recognising that internationalisation needs to be at the heart of everything that we do.

I think in reality the markers are going to be that we will have a larger, more diversified international student and international staff community. That we will be growing partnerships and that we will be seeing more and more opportunities for students to take time to travel abroad, engage with students overseas, whether that be physically travel or not and also that we will be opening up opportunities for students to come and visit us from around the world.

The Global Galway group is really exciting it’s all about opening up opportunities it’s all about framing the University for the future.


0 / 5. Vote count: 0

Discover More
SDG Champion

Aligning our Research with Sustainable Development Goals

In today’s hyper developed and interconnected world, we see isolated actions give rise to global repercussions like never before. As a framework for addressing global issues, the UN Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action for universities to consider the wider impact of their research. Here VP for Research & Innovation, Prof James Livesey explains how the SDGs have inspired a new approach to research strategy and prioritisation.

SDG Champion

In Conversation: Dorothy Creaven, Rent the Runway

Since its 2009 launch, Rent the Runway has made headlines as a sustainable alternative to fast fashion, and more recently as the first female-founded company with a female CEO, COO and CFO to go public. Rent the Runway’s e-commerce service allows users to rent clothes from 800+ designers, disrupting a trillion-dollar fashion sector. At its European HQ in the heart of Galway City, University of Galway alum Dorothy Creaven is transforming the company’s digital infrastructure as VP and Managing Director. We sat down with Dorothy to discuss the impact of her work in building a sustainable future for fashion.
SDG Champion

The Real-World Effects of Cyberbullying

Easy access to virtual social space has seen young people face dangers of cyberbullying, sextortion and online victimisation. Many primary schools have taken steps to ban smartphones on school grounds, following the launch of government guidelines on restrictions of smartphone use among young people. According to Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dr Mairéad Foody, research is key in informing quality prevention and intervention among schools, parents and guardians.

Keep up to date on the latest from us straight to your inbox

Privacy policy