Working together to negotiate a better future

McGinty, Lorraine and Huggins, Imelda (2011) Working together to negotiate a better future. [Conference Proceedings]


It is widely agreed that higher education intuitions exist to serve and strengthen the society of which they are part. Recent years have seen an increased focus on providing student-learners with the opportunity to take more responsibility for their own development and personal education. Over the past 2 years UCD has successfully implemented Ireland's first negotiated model of postgraduate learning (i.e. Level 9, Certificate, Diploma, MSc degree awards). This paper concentrates on one such programme - the UCD MSc in Computer Science by Negotiated Learning - which is currently the largest and fastest growing programme of its kind in Europe. Computer science plays a vital role in almost every business in today's world. Now, more than ever, skilled IT professionals are in high demand. At a time when sustainable employment is under threat, high-quality IT graduates are still in demand. According to the Central Statistics Office's 2010 figures more than 74,000 are employed in the Irish ICT Sector, and The Innovation Taskforce estimates in excess of 177,000 posts will be created by 2020. Furthermore, in 2010 over €72million was invested in the ICT Schools Initiative, and according to the Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index for 2009-2010 Ireland was rated 21/133 countries for company spending on Research and Development. These facts service to highlight even further how higher education institutions have a very real civic responsibility to foster partnerships between universities and ICT industry in order to enhance economic opportunity, empower individuals, and strengthen the relevance, reach, and responsiveness of university education and research. The negotiated learning model provides enormous potential for students who may be returning to education in view of further developing their skill sets in a democratic way that allows them to re-position themselves in the ICT sector. The extent to which this potential can be realized depends on how quickly other universities and industry adopt this model to offer programmes of mutual benefit. The paper discusses how individual student-centred learning contracts can be negotiated across a broad choice of more than 100 module offerings, and why thematic specialization steams should be informed by industry-focused needs.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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