National News in Brief

TCD vote to stay affiliated with USI

The students of Trinity College Dublin have voted in favour of the TCD Student Union’s continued affiliation with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Students were asked to vote ‘No’ if in favour of maintaining the affiliation and ‘Yes’ if in favour of separation.

The ‘No’ side, led by campaign manager Jack Leahy, received 1,496 (61.5%) of the votes, while ‘Yes’ received 829 (34.1%) votes. In total 2,431 votes were cast with 106 (4.4%) spoiled ballots. Leahy expressed his “delight” at the victory of his campaign as well as expressing his commiserations to the leader of the ‘Yes’ campaign, Mark O’Meara.

O’Meara also expressed his congratulations to the opposition, but said that the USI need to live up to their campaign promises for future reform. USI President John Logue said TCD’s continued affiliation will strengthen USI in its upcoming campaigns and that USI “will continue to resist any increases in fees, cuts to the maintenance grant and any measures that affect access to education.”

Technical Innovation in Irish Universities

MOF Technologies, a fledgling spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), have recently met with success in the North’s latest 25k awards. This annual competition is held to raise profiles of up-and-coming technology innovators and offers £25,000 (€31,000) as its first prize.

MOF Technologies beat 40 rivals to claim the title of company with the “greatest commercial potential”, as well as a cheque for £10,000. This title was awarded to them for their development of a revolutionary technique to take advantage of a class of nano-materials known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) that is both fast and environmentally friendly. MOFs are highly porous materials that can store, separate and capture specific gases and can be used in many different applications, from natural gas storage in vehicles to drug delivery devices, but all previously existing techniques for their manufacture have been cost-inefficient and environmentally damaging. The five-strong team of academics and entrepreneurs of MOF are delighted with the result and hope it will enhance future opportunities for further investment.

New research carried out by Lero, Ireland’s National Software Engineering Research Centre at NUI Galway, has reported the first empirical evidence of the benefits of cloud computing. The worldwide market for cloud computing (which is where business applications are accessed via Internet instead of via premise software or surfaces) is, according to Gartner, expected to increase by 19% to $109 billion in 2012. NUIG conducted its research on evidence-based study across a number of Irish based organisations. Research confirmed prior suspicion that cloud computing has cost and time benefits as well as demonstrating that it produces positive changes in the way in which companies interact with external sources and employees interact with each other.

University-Community Collaboration in UCC’s CARL

UCC has become the first Irish third-level institution to use student research as the means for increased interaction between the university and the wider community through the launch of its pilot project, CARL (Community-Academic Research Links).

CARL aims to promote collaboration between students and community groups on research projects in order to address specific needs in the community. In one recent project, students conducted research into a new form of respite service for persons with intellectual disabilities that is being introduced in County Clare, gaining funding from Home Share Clare as a result. Another recent CARL project examined the impact of a local youth work project being undertaken in Cork City, working alongside YMCA Cork.

CARL invites non-profit organisations to suggest potential projects that can be conducted by students across all academic disciplines. This has resulted in the completion of 15 CARL projects in the last two academic years. These projects have mainly concerned social issues such as disability, youth work and provisions for the elderly. Currently there are more than 25 research proposals available to incoming UCC students next year.