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					      University College Dublin

Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement




       Peer Review Group Report

Department of Crop Science, Horticulture
             and Forestry




               May 2005
                      TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                            Page
1. The Department

       1.1    Location of the Department                        4

       1.2    Staff                                             4

       1.3    Courses and Programmes                            4


2. The Departmental Self-Assessment

       2.1    The Co-ordinating Committee                       7

       2.2    Methodology adopted                               7


3. The Site Visit

       3.1    Timetable                                         8

       3.2    Methodology                                       9

       3.3    General Comments                                  9


4. The Peer Review

       4.1    Methodology                                       11

       4.2    Sources used                                      11

       4.3    Peer Review Group's View of the SAR               11


5. Findings of the Peer Review Group

       5.1    The findings of the Peer Review Group             13

       5.2    Crop Science                                      17

       5.3    Forestry                                          21

       5.4    Horticultural Science and Sportsturf Management   24

       5.5    Landscape Architecture                            27


6. General Recommendations                                      29

7. Response of the Co-ordinating Committee
to the PRG Report                                               31



                                    2
                    MEMBERS OF THE PEER REVIEW GROUP



Name                      Affiliation                              Role

Dr Joe Brady              Department of Geography                  Chair
                          University College Dublin

Dr David Brayden          Department of Small Animal Clinical      Rapporteur
                          Studies
                          University College Dublin

Dr Evelyn Doyle           Department of Industrial Microbiology    Cognate
                          University College Dublin

Dr Lindsay Easson         Agricultural Research Institute     of   Extern
                          Northern Ireland and
                          Queen‟s University Belfast

Professor Juergen Huss    Albert-Ludwigs University                Extern
                          Freiburg, Germany

Professor Dr Donnchadh University of Applied Sciences      Extern
Mac Cárthaigh          and National Research Institute for
                       Horticulture
                       Freising, Germany

Mr Richard Bisgrove       University of Reading                    Extern




                                         3
1.    THE DEPARTMENT

1.1   Location of the Department

      The main location of the Department is in the Faculty of Agri-Food and the
      Environment Building. The Horticulture sections have facilities at both
      Rosemount and Thornfield. The Forestry section has a laboratory in Room
      2.02 and also avails of the facilities at Thornfield.

      The Crop Science section has field facilities and a laboratory at Lyons
      Research Farm.

      Landscape architecture also has Room 1.27. Room LG.08 is an internal room
      and has no natural light.


1.2   Staff

      The full-time teaching staff of the Department comprises the permanent posts
      of 2 professors, 1 associate professor 5 senior lecturers and 9 lecturers.

      The part-time teaching staff consists of 1 contract lecturer.

      The Department‟s complement of administrative staff covers 2 permanent, full-
      time administrators.

      The Department also contains 8 permanent, full-time technical staff and one
      job-share, 1 research assistant and access to approximately 25
      tutors/demonstrators.

      There is a large student-staff ratio in all sections of the Department. In
      Landscape Architecture it is 29:1 (See Appendix 4C of SAR).

      Breakdown of staff allocation between the different areas is laid out in the
      relevant sections of the Self-assessment Report.


1.3   Courses and Programmes

      The Department as a whole administers 4 degree programmes:

         (a ) Animal & Crop Production, (b) Forestry (c) Horticulture, Landscape &
         Sportsturf Management and (d) Landscape Architecture.

      The Crop Science Section does not deliver a specific degree programme but
      contributes to the following degree courses in Faculties:

      Animal and Crop Production (ACP), Animal Science (AS), Food and
      Agribusiness Management (FAM), Environmental Resource Management
      (ERM), Food Science (FS), Engineering Technology (ET), Horticulture,
      Sportsturf and Landscape Management and Biosystems Engineering -

      These contributions are made by offering the following courses:


                                              4
Introduction to Animal and Crop Production, Crop Husbandry I, Statistics,
Crop Husbandry III, Professional Work Experience, Crop Husbandry IVb, Crop
Husbandry Iva, Organic Agriculture, Alternative Crop Development,
Developments in Cereal Production, Developments in Grassland, Agricultural
Climatology and Meteorology, Weed Control, Soil Science I, Soil Science II.

The Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management Section (from
September 2005) contributes to the undergraduate Horticultural Science
Degree through the following courses:

Introduction to Horticultural Science, Fundamentals of Horticulture, Landscape
and Turfgrass Management 1, Nursery and Garden Centre Management 1,
Pomology 1 – Fruit Production, Protected Horticulture 1, Vegetable Crops 1,
Landscape and Turfgrass Management 2, Nursery and Garden Centre
Management 2, Pomology 2 – Post Harvest Physiology, Protected Horticulture
2, Vegetable Crops 2, Floriculture, Interior Plantscaping, Plant Biotechnology,
Advanced Pomology, Nursery Garden Centre Management 1, Nursery
Garden Centre Management 2 and Social Horticulture.

The Landscape Architecture (from September 2005) Section offers the
Landscape Architecture degree within the Faculty of Agri-Food and the
Environment. The following courses are offered:

Introduction to Landscape Horticulture, Landscape Design Theory 1,
Landscape Studio 2A, Landscape Studio 2B, Computer Applications in
Landscape Architecture, Landscape Construction, Landscape Design Studio
3a, Landscape Design Studio 3b, Landscape Design Theory II, Plant
Materials A, Plant Materials B, Professional Practice and Planning Law, Urban
Horticulture, Landscape Planning, Landscape Design Theory III, Professional
Practice and Planning Law II, Landscape Design Studio 4a, Landscape
Design Studio 4b, Landscape Research Project, Exotic Trees and Shrubs,
Leisure and Recreational Activities, and Garden Restoration.

The Forestry Section offers the Forestry degree including the following
courses:

Introduction to Forestry, Forest Mensuration and Biometrics, Fundamentals of
Forestry, Silviculture I, Forest Harvesting, Computer Applications, Forest
Management, Silivculture II, Wood Science, Remote Sensing and GIS, Forest
Inventory and Biometrics, Professional Forestry Practice, Forest Management
Plan, Forest Planning, Experimental Design, Forest Inventory and GIS, Forest
Landscape Planning and Design, Forest Management Techniques, Forest
Policy, Forest Roads, Forest Tree Improvement, Multiple Use Management,
Physiological Ecology of Forest Production, The Biology, Silviculture &
Management of Sitka Spruce, Advanced Nursery Practice I, Advanced
Nursery Practice II, Agro-Forestry, The Biology, Silviculture & Management of
Broadleaves, Familiarisation with Forestry, Forest Harvest Scheduling
System, Forestry in Europe, Sustainable Forest Management and Forestry
and the Law.

The Agri-Food and Environment Faculty has being using modules for some
time and the courses offered by this Department are also modularised to a
large extent.



                                       5
Details on the composition of the modules on each course are outlined
adequately in the Self-assessment Report.




                                  6
2.    THE DEPARTMENTAL SELF-ASSESSMENT

2.1   The Co-ordinating Committee

      Dr. Trevor Storey                 Head of Department/Chair
      Ms Valerie Guilfoyle              Administrative Officer
      Dr. Mary Forrest                  Horticulture
      Dr. Conor O‟Reilly                Forestry
      Mr Tom Moore                      Horticulture Technician
      Mr Kevin Keenan                   Horticulture Technician

      Two facilitators were appointed by the QA/QI Office to advise and assist the
      Departmental Committee:
      Dr Joe Brady, Department of Geography.
      Dr David Brayden, Department of Small Animal Clinical Studies.


2.2   Methodology Adopted

      The review was divided into the four sections of (a) Crop Science, (b)
      Forestry, (c) Horticulture/Landscape & Sportsturf Management, and (d)
      Landscape Architecture. Each Section took responsibility for a review of their
      area with a common primary chapter of the Report representing all four areas.
      These sections were written as independent chapters and bound together to
      make a two-volume Self-assessment Report.




                                            7
3.      THE SITE VISIT


3.1     Timetable

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

17.15          PRG meet at hotel
19.30          Dinner hosted by Registrar and Vice-President for Academic Affairs

Wednesday, 13 April 2005
Food Science Boardroom
09.00-09.30    PRG meet
09.30-10.00    PRG meet with Co-ordinating Committee
10.00-11.00    PRG meet Head of Department
11.00-11.30    PRG meet Dean of Agri-Food and Environment over coffee
11.30-12.10    PRG meet Forestry Academic Staff
12.10-12.50    PRG meet Crop Science Academic Staff
12.50-14.15    Working lunch, PRG only
14.15-15.30    PRG meet Horticultural Science and Landscape Architecture
               Academic Staff
15.30-16.00    PRG meet with Technical Staff
16.00-16.30    Coffee
16.30-18.30    PRG view facilities of the Department
19.30          PRG only, working dinner in hotel

Thursday, 14 April 2005
Food Science Boardroom
09.00-09.30    PRG meet
09.30-10.00    PRG meet with Administrative Staff
10.00-10.20    PRG meet with Crop Science Postgraduate Students
10.20-10.40    PRG meet with Forestry Postgraduate Students
10.40-11.00    PRG meet with Horticultural Science Postgraduate Students
11.00-11.20    Coffee
11.20-11.45    PRG meet with Crop Science Undergraduate Students
11.45-12.10    PRG meet with Forestry Undergraduate Students
12.10-12.35    PRG meet with Horticultural Science Undergraduate Students
12.35- 13.00   PRG meet with Landscape Architecture Undergraduate Students
13.00-14.30    PRG has lunch with Graduates and Graduate Employers, Norah
               Greene Room
14.30-15.00    PRG meet with staff not on Co-ordinating Committee
15.00–16.00    PRG available for private individual staff meetings
16.00-16.30    Coffee
16.30-18.00    PRG available for private individual staff meetings
19.30          PRG only, working dinner in hotel

Friday, 15 April 2005
Food Science Boardroom
09.30-11.30    PRG reschedule/request additional visits
11.30-13.00    PRG work on PRG report
13.00-14.00    Working lunch, PRG only


                                            8
14.00-15.00      PRG work on PRG report
15.00-15.30      PRG meet Head of Department
15.30-16.15      Presentation by PRG to all Department staff (academic, technical
                 and administrative)
16.30            PRG and Department reception, Common Room

3.2     Methodology

        The Chair and Rapporteur, acting as facilitators, met the Co-ordinating
        Committee twice in the previous year. These meetings were to guide the
        Department on requirements for their Self-assessment Report and
        subsequent site visit. Other informal contacts took place between the
        facilitators and the Head of Department. The PRG were given copies of the
        Self-assessment Report (SAR) approximately two weeks in advance of the
        site visit.

        The PRG met the Registrar on the first evening in order to get a full
        understanding of the re-structuring process that the University is currently
        undergoing. Specific topics addressed included the impending division of the
        Faculty of Agri-Food and Environment and the likely future School location(s)
        of the four individual areas of the Department of Crop Science, Forestry and
        Horticulture.

        The Chair of the PRG assigned specialities to the externs in accordance with
        their expertise, matched to the specific areas of the Department. It was also
        agreed to provide overview recommendations and specific recommendations
        for each area, in accordance with the sections outlined in the SAR. All findings
        of the PRG were agreed unanimously unless stated.

        The entire PRG met all the individuals and groups in the Food Science
        Boardroom as outlined in the timetable. This room was adequate for most
        meetings with small groups, but was a little small for meetings with large
        groups. All members of the PRG were present at each meeting. Notes on all
        meetings were taken by the Rapporteur. The PRG had de-briefing sessions
        on each evening of the site visit. Visits to the Landscape Architecture ground
        floor studios and also the Horticulture Science laboratory were arranged. The
        PRG also visited the glasshouses at the local Thornfield site as well as the
        orchards at the Rosemount site.

        The Chairman presented the provisional findings of the PRG to the Head of
        Department prior to a general meeting of all staff. It was agreed that Professor
        Mac Cárthaigh would deliver the provisional findings of the PRG to the
        Department.


3.3     General Comments

        The PRG wishes to express its thanks to the staff and students of the
        Department for the welcome they received. In particular, the PRG wish to
        acknowledge the considerable help offered by the Head of Department.
        Meetings during the site visit were well attended and the responses to
        forthright questions were honest and frank. The programme for the visit was
        full and adequate. The PRG was available to meet all staff from the different
        areas of the Department. It had adequate time for discussion, for drafting its
        report and for preparing the Exit presentation. The PRG wishes to thank the


                                               9
Administrative staff for their help in the preparation of documentation.

The SAR makes it clear that the Department comprises four loosely integrated
sections and all the arranged meetings with groups reflected this. While this
appeared justified in respect of academic staff, it meant that the PRG had to
meet up to seven separate groups of undergraduates and postgraduates,
when perhaps two pooled representative groups would have yielded the same
information in less time.




                                       10
4.    THE PEER REVIEW


4.1   Methodology

      Professor Huss was assigned Forestry. Dr. Easson was assigned Crop
      Science, while Horticultural Science was the remit of Mr. Bisgrove and
      Professor Mac Cárthaigh. Mr. Bisgrove took the additional area of Landscape
      Architecture as he had the relevant knowledge. This meant that these externs
      would lead discussions and write initial draft recommendations for their areas,
      supported by the rest of the PRG in meetings and discussions. The Cognate,
      Dr. Doyle, provided her experience of University-wide teaching and research
      activities for comparison in discussions. In addition, her Department currently
      provides service teaching in Industrial Microbiology to Agriculture
      undergraduates. The Chair had particular knowledge on the infrastructure of
      the University. The Rapporteur had the additional experience of being a
      member of a Departmental Co-ordinating Committee in a recent QA/QI
      process in the Veterinary Faculty.


4.2   Sources Used

         1. The SAR of the Department of Crop Science, Horticulture and
            Forestry, including individual sections representing the disciplines as
            well as relevant Appendices.
         2. Taught course modules and curricula provided at the site visit
            (Forestry)
         3. Sample course evaluations
         4. CVs and research publications
         5. PRG meetings with staff and students.
         6. Site visit to local field stations.


4.3   Peer Review Group's View of the Self-assessment Report

      The PRG appreciated the time and trouble that the Co-ordinating Committee
      had devoted to the Report. It is clear, however, that existing structures
      prevented the Report being the coherent analysis of the totality of the
      Department for which the PRG would have wished. This is in no way a
      criticism of the current Head of Department who inherited a difficult situation
      and deeply entrenched structures.

      It is clear that there was never a single department and that the integration of
      1989 existed only in name. The individual units functioned as separate entities
      and were seen as separate by both staff and students. The SAR comprised
      discrete sections on the four units within the Department without any
      overarching analysis, though a preamble attempted to provide a context.

      In general, the PRG was disappointed with the limited commentary and
      analysis within the SAR. It feels that an opportunity was missed for the


                                                  11
Department and the sections within it to set out strategic objectives for
themselves for which they might have sought the endorsement of the PRG.
Tables and bare facts were presented without commentary or any sense of
context. In mitigation, however, the PRG is entirely sympathetic with the
difficulty the Department had in giving a commitment to the QA/QI process
given the University-wide uncertainty over the new structures that are
imminent. For example, it would be difficult to write a thorough analysis when
that group was in current discussions about its future location and direction.
On the other hand, the element of QA on the Department‟s performance could
have been addressed in a more detailed discussion than was provided, given
that the process has had a 12-month lead-in time and would be the same
irrespective of the current restructuring. There was no Departmental SWOT
analysis, although one area made a worthwhile attempt at analysing this
bigger picture. Important sections on research and external relations were
omitted from elements of the Report. There was also some concern about
inaccurate citing of research publications in one or two sections. In addition,
while questionnaires were provided in the appendix, there was little sense of
response rates or indeed any specific comments from those to whom it was
assigned. In terms of courses, while the text stated that External Examiners‟
reports were available for each area, the PRG were surprised that a selection
of these objective views on how the courses are delivered was not provided in
an Appendix. The PRG could get no feel of the Department‟s direction over a
sustained period from the Report.

A notable omission from the Report was the Soil Science group, whose work
was almost completely absent from the documentation and from meetings.

However, notwithstanding the limitations of the SAR, the PRG is satisfied that
it obtained a clear and detailed view of the Department‟s activities. Staff
engaged fully during the meetings with the PRG and it was possible to
compensate for the omissions in the SAR. The discussions with staff and
students were lengthy and comprehensive and were characterised by a
directness and honesty which the PRG found very useful. Views and opinions
were amplified during the various „field visits‟ while various members of the
PRG sought, and obtained, interviews with a number of staff members.




                                      12
5.    FINDINGS OF THE PEER REVIEW GROUP


5.1   The Findings of the Peer Review Group

      General findings relating to the overall Department:

      1. Current Departmental structure:
      It is clear to the PRG that the Department of Crop Science, Horticulture and
      Forestry never developed a single identity, but rather maintained the character
      of individual departments. This was reflected in the SAR but this view also
      emerged in meetings with staff and students. There was no sense that people
      saw themselves as belonging to a larger integrated group. This sub-division
      into the units of Forestry, Horticulture and Crop Science occurred in 1989,
      when the Department was formed. The further sub-division of Horticulture into
      Horticulture Science and Landscape Horticulture (Landscape Architecture)
      appeared to evolve as the latter became a stronger discipline in the 1990s.
      This is clearly a case where the University failed to ensure that a restructuring
      occurred in more than name. As these disciplines head towards three different
      schools, the PRG urges all those involved in implementing the formation of
      such schools to make sure that the various disciplines have a shared vision in
      their respective units. The PRG feels that many opportunities for productive
      research collaborations between these disciplines were missed because they
      were allowed to evolve as separate entities from the outset. There is now a
      chance for a fresh start for each of these areas in the new schools and an
      opportunity to consider the many possibilities for creative collaboration in
      teaching and research.

      2. Future structure:
      The Registrar asked the PRG to comment on the most appropriate locations
      for the four groups in this Department in the restructured University. The PRG
      is satisfied that the broad thrust of School and College membership is
      appropriate but there are issues of detail that are important to note and which
      will be outlined below.

         Crop Science should go the School of Agriculture, Food and Veterinary
          Medicine.
         Forestry and Horticulture Science / Sportsturf Management should go to
          the School of Biological and Environmental Science.
         The Landscape Architects should go the School of Architecture, Civil
          Engineering and the Designed Environment.

      The rationale for these recommendations will become apparent when the
      individual areas are examined later in this Report.

      3. Administrative and Technical Staff:
      The PRG recognises the high quality of administrative support that the
      Department has enjoyed and it is clear that the administrators will be an asset
      to the new Schools in whatever capacity they find themselves. This grouping



                                               13
is dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate about their disciplines.             This
enthusiasm must be cherished and harnessed in the new structures.

We were also impressed by the level of commitment for personal and
professional development shown by many of the technical staff. Clearly there
are issues relating to the deployment of technical staff within the new Schools
and the PRG is of the view that the resolution of these issues is crucial to the
research mandate of the new Schools.

The PRG recognises the concern expressed by both technical and
administrative staff regarding the lack of communication about the
restructuring process. Both categories of staff are central to the success of
the new structures and must be seen as part of the team.

The PRG was made aware of the anxiety and uncertainty of the technicians
over potential closure of field units and as to what their future will be in the
new schools. Technical staff foresee a need to retrain and are concerned that
their current expertise might not be required. No conclusions were apparent
during the site visit. It is also clear that many facilities that the technicians are
working with are unsafe and require updating. It was clear to the PRG that
many technicians were demoralised by restricted promotional opportunities
because of their linkage to where staff are located in UCD. Current grading
contains too many insignificant increments and there seemed to be little or no
performance appraisal.

There was also an issue of confusion over reporting lines amongst the
technicians and the assignment of priorities. It was put to the PRG that
access by graduate students to technical support was ad hoc and haphazard,
leading to inequities. This must be addressed given the potential to damage
research projects in the future. However, the PRG is of the view that the lack
of an integrated Department contributed to this confusion over duties and
roles. Clarity in their role and responsibility in the work of the unit(s) will be
needed. The PRG noted that the technical staff interviewed show a high
degree of collegiality as a group even though, like the academic staff, they are
based in all four group areas of the Department.

One of the aims of the new Schools is that talented administrative and
technical staff should develop personally and professionally in larger school-
based activities and the PRG feels that there is a quality support staff here
that can avail of these potential opportunities for the benefit of the new
Schools. The PRG noted that administration and technical staff members are
due to meet a representative of the President‟s team to discuss their roles in
the new Schools and would strongly encourage consistent communication
with these groups in the coming months.

4. Academic Programmes
The information presented to the PRG on academic programmes was useful
but it would have been helpful had there been more analysis by the
Department of this information. The PRG would have been particularly
interested in the Department‟s view on how the programmes fitted into the
general context of education in these areas in Ireland and internationally. This
level of detail cannot be ascertained in meetings and should have been in the
SAR. On a positive note, the major point that emerged was that courses in the
Agri-Food and Environment Faculty are already modularised and that the



                                         14
main job now is to work out the credit arrangement.

The PRG was very pleased with the attendance by students at the sessions
organised for undergraduate and graduate students. All students praised the
relationship between them and the Department. They spoke approvingly of
the ready availability of staff and the generally welcoming atmosphere. It was
noted, however, that many students did not know that there are support
services available if they faced personal problems. In addition, recognition by
the Department of the need to teach transferable skills (communication; time
management, report writing, literature searching, interview skills, CV writing,
job applications etc) was quite limited. The Department structure seemed to
lack a „Director of Studies‟ whose responsibility it would be to ensure that
everything was in place to ensure a good experience for the student, to deal
with student disciplinary matters and interact with the University Authorities on
behalf of the Department.

Students were positive in their comments about the delivery of programmes,
their coherence and their overall quality. They expressed themselves satisfied
with the amount and quality of informational material. Not all staff has availed
of modern technology in their teaching. In particular the provision of lecture
material as handouts or on-line via „Blackboard‟ appears to have been
intermittent. The groupings would benefit from a more consistent policy
embracing at a minimum some course guides, assignment marking schemes
and on-line resources. However, the PRG recognises that e-learning is not
the panacea for all teaching and would not advocate a one-size-fits-all in
relation to use of technology.

The students also expressed satisfaction with Computer and Library facilities.

The value and importance of the First Year General Science programme was
not universally understood by students. For example, we did not meet one
student who could relate the study of Physics to their reasons for doing an
Agriculture degree or the potential benefits that might accrue. While it is
undoubtedly true that some students will often see the benefit in retrospect, it
may be a barrier to the recruitment of students in the future and consideration
should be given to seeing how First Year (Stage 1) can be structured to meet
these concerns. Stage 1 modules should be tailored towards specific
programmes while retaining the breadth of the degree. Students requested
an early engagement with their particular discipline and it seems that some
groups are beginning to address this, even if it is currently in the second
semester.

Students emphasised the importance of practical instruction. UCD students
tended to be slightly in awe of the students who had joined the course from
Waterford I.T., since the latter seemed to have more practical skills. It will be
important to ensure that the emphasis on the acquisition of practical skills is
not diminished but rather enhanced in future programme delivery.

Students who have transferred from ITs commented on how much they valued
the small group instruction and the practical nature of the IT programmes.
The conversion of these programmes to degrees at ITs will provide attractive
alternatives to those currently on offer in UCD and this is a significant threat,
given the statements from Waterford IT students that they would have
preferred to stay in their local educational establishment, had a full degree
been on offer.


                                       15
The PRG is of the opinion that a strategic analysis be undertaken of the UCD
undergraduate programmes to ensure that they are best placed to attract high
quality students from the general population and also from the ITs. However,
it is crucial that the UCD programmes continue to emphasise their high quality
Science focus. This differentiates its programmes as well as providing an
important platform for high quality graduate education and research.


5. Research
Although there is considerable variation in research output across the
Department, it is clear that a considerable volume of international quality
research is being undertaken in some but not all areas.

The PRG recognises that much of the research output is directed towards
applied publications for which the target market is often the particular industry.
This is recognised as a valuable contribution to the discipline and the PRG is
of the view that the University must recognise this in any research assessment
of individual and group performance. The current choice of journals is
appropriate to the individual disciplines and is in line with international best
practice, irrespective of journal impact factors. However, the PRG believes
that there are also opportunities to publish this material in international peer-
reviewed academic journals targeted to a more scientific audience. These
opportunities must be exploited to the maximum degree in the future to benefit
individuals and enhance the reputation of Schools.

The PRG views the restructuring as an opportunity to enhance and develop
collaborations in research, teaching and learning within and between schools.
This will be a significant challenge to the four groups, given that this has not
been the dominant culture heretofore. It is also an opportunity to develop new
lines of innovative research to meet changing requirements. The PRG is of
the view that these collaborations should be wide ranging and that the
individual College should not be seen as the only context for this work. The
focus of much research seems overly focused on Ireland and it will benefit
from an enhanced international dimension. This is not to undervalue or
devalue research that is concerned with issues relating to Ireland.

The provision of high quality accredited physical resources must be invested
in by the University and be in place if research funding is to be attracted (e.g.
glasshouses for all plant work –not just glasshouse crops). The PRG noted
that there was a significant botany SFI-funded plant gene expression project
based in the glasshouses, so the potential for UCD in plant biotechnology is
readily apparent and can bridge the themes of research in several schools.

By international standards, the number of graduate students is low across the
different sections of the Department. The new Schools should provide
opportunities for attracting a wider range of research students. The PRG was
concerned that current graduate students felt somewhat isolated from each
other and from the University. They were not aware of University supports for
graduate students and opportunities for training and interaction and seem not
to have considered the advantages of seeing their work in a wider
perspective. They had little knowledge of UCD‟s own Ph.D. student orientation
course and of the graduate courses in the Conway Institute. While individual
students appreciated the high level of quality supervision that they received,



                                       16
      the PRG advocates a more structured means of research supervision, e.g.
      involving other colleagues in thesis committees, journal clubs, seminars,
      courses etc. International postgraduate students also have particular
      mentoring needs, which could be met better in the graduate research
      programme than is currently the case.

      The PRG met several staff with a vocation for research and these individuals
      need to be nurtured better by the University by such measures as financially
      supporting conference attendance in a manner that recognises the real cost of
      travel and accommodation, and also in updating laboratory infrastructure.
      Complying with UCD‟s mission statement denoting a research ethos will
      therefore require significant investment in staff and facilities and this is what is
      required if the recent OECD recommendations are to be followed.

      Finally, the PRG found that there was a lack of clarity amongst all staff
      questioned on how budgeting was calculated for the Department and the four
      sections. Staff remained remarkably unaware of how UCD operates
      distribution of finance in respect of numbers of staff, undergraduates and
      postgraduates. Most staff felt that the Department was treated as a poor
      relation, at least in financial terms, in the Faculty. There appeared to be a
      rather paternalistic view of how the four sections of the Department received
      funding from the Faculty and there was a level of inertia in relation to the topic.
      While the PRG cannot say whether the Department and its sections were
      under-resourced within the Faculty, their own experiences suggest that
      knowledge of the budget process can only be an advantage in arguing for
      maximal resource allocation. This will be highly pertinent as these groups
      move to new Schools.


5.2   Crop Science

      Group details:
       The lack of engagement of some of the Crop Science staff in the review
        process due to the juxtaposition of the review and the re-structuring
        process, along with some imminent retirements was understandable.
        However, it left the SAR with significant gaps which the review team had to
        fill through detailed questioning. A major omission was the Soil Science
        group whose work was almost completely absent from the documentation.

       Nevertheless a substantial amount of information was gathered during
        interviews which allowed the PRG to develop a clear understanding of the
        unit.

       The Crop Science group is clearly in transition with pending retirements of
        senior academics. This will pose challenges in the new School but will also
        offer the chance for the group to align itself in the most effective manner
        with new teaching and research opportunities and groupings on offer in the
        new structures.

      Planning and Organisation:
       In terms of the day-to-day planning and scheduling of the teaching of Crop
        Science and the maintenance of the crop research programmes of the
        individual staff, the PRG is satisfied that this was carried out effectively.



                                              17
 Even without the incentive of the reorganisation, the Crop Science staff
  would have benefited from more regular formal inclusive staff meetings at
  which the direction of future research work and the opportunities for
  funding applications could be discussed. By having a clear picture in their
  own mind of where they want to be in teaching and research, their niche in
  the School of Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Medicine would become
  apparent.

Taught Programmes / Teaching and Learning
 The teaching of crop science is of an appropriately high standard and is
  given by staff who are respected by the industry as being leaders in their
  disciplines.

 The number of students entering Animal and Crop Production has been
  declining for a number of years. A significant proportion of students are
  entering from Waterford IT in order to obtain a Degree qualification, but
  even with that, there has been an overall decline that is related to the
  attractiveness of farming as a career. Staff were of the view that in spite of
  this decline there will continue to be a sufficient demand for Agriculture
  graduates to maintain the viability of the courses. The PRG felt that in
  order to maintain student numbers within agriculture courses, issues such
  as the relationship with IT‟s, the appropriateness of all the science
  teaching, the practical content of the courses and the promotion of the
  courses to industry, will have to be addressed.

Research and Scholarly Activity
 Of the four academic staff, the PRG could locate just one CV with full
  details of research interests and publications. However, a summary of the
  research activity of the group was supplied and other information was
  supplied orally.

 The recent research of the group has mainly centred on applied research
  related to fungicide use on cereals and forage maize agronomy. This work
  has been largely funded by the agricultural trade. It has been highly valued
  by the industry and technology transfer of the results through well attended
  open days, meetings and press articles has been very effective. To
  maintain a consistent contract income in this way represents a significant
  achievement by this group. The PRG agrees that there is a capacity for
  additional research in this area beyond contract research for testing of new
  chemicals.

 The academic staff that will be going into the School of Agriculture, Food
  and Veterinary Medicine have a track record in arable food for farm
  animals and the PRG sees this as a complementary fit. We would also
  advocate that new staff in the section should augment food-based crop
  research for production animals in line with the research themes of that
  School. The research themes of the School of Agriculture, Food and
  Veterinary Medicine should also consider research into non-food crops,
  which are becoming increasingly important.

 The research interests of the Crop Science group have a local focus and
  have served the immediate needs of specific sectors of the industry. A



                                      18
    concern must be raised however, over the dependence of the work on
    trade funding which may restrict academic freedom and has prevented the
    investigation of topics of a more fundamental, strategic and forward-
    thinking nature.

 Much of the publication output has been in conference proceedings and
  includes non-refereed publications. Although this is a bona fide high
  quality scholarly activity and should be recognised as such by the
  University, there appears to have been little impetus to take all elements of
  this valuable applied research further into refereed publications, which
  unfortunately diminishes the recognition of the group within the academic
  circles. That is not to say that communication of the results to the target
  farming audience is unimportant.

 The question of value for money for Crop Science research at Lyons Estate
  arose. Crop Science researchers need to make a case for continuing at
  Lyons or perhaps for exploring a more local and cheaper alternative farm
  tailored for their needs. In view of the proximity of Teagasc Oak Park and
  the relatively moderate scale of arable crop farming in Ireland, a greater
  degree of integration with Teagasc might be considered in terms of
  research resources. The PRG is aware that a recent report was supplied to
  the President by Agriculture and Veterinary users of the Lyons Estate and
  will not revisit that here except to say that the full range of research options
  at Lyons‟ need to be identified.

 Crop Science should continue to carry out collaborative research with
  Teagasc and focus on developing strategies to meet EU obligations and
  thus identify new funding streams.

 The PRG recommends that there should continue to be a Chair in the
  subject, but that the opportunity should be taken to reflect the new research
  focus of the group in the area of specialism of the person appointed.

External Relations
   Crop Science has good relations with the farming community, Teagasc
    and with other local interests. They enjoy a high reputation. However, a
    consequence of their focus on local matters is that they are less well
    known on an international stage. Opportunities that will increase their
    international profile should be sought and supported by the University.

SWOT Analysis for Crop Science:

Strengths:
 Strong links with local farming community and Teagasc.
 Substantial contract      income    from    agri-trade   for   some   research
  programmes.
 Asset of Lyons estate.
 High quality research for the industry.
 High quality teaching programmes.




                                       19
Weaknesses:
 Several Senior staff retiring and may / may not be replaced.
 Lack of strategic thinking and planning.
 Low production of academic publications from all research work.
 Over-dependence on trade funding of research.
 Short term rather than longer term focus of research.
 Run down facilities at field stations.


Opportunities:
 New linkages in School of Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Medicine gives
  opportunities to develop new research programmes in Crop Science.
 Appointment of new staff to fill vacancies gives opportunity to change
  direction of research to meet new research challenges.
 The obligations placed on governments by EU legislation are creating new
  opportunities for research programmes.
 Changes taking place in the industry create opportunities for research to
  answer new needs. Examples include: the need to evaluate how cropping
  practices can affect phosphate balances; crops for bioremediation; role of
  home-produce versus imported animal feeds; energy cropping;
  partnerships with other streams of biomass; marketing of heat and energy;
  biotechnology and novel crops; pharmaceuticals; nutriceuticals;
  management systems for highest environmental standards and within
  schemes such as the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme and Quality
  Assurance Schemes.
 Research is needed to provide the scientific basis for government policy
  changes in relation to agriculture, the environment, food policy etc; or to
  challenge or modify such policies.
 The PRG is of the view that, although Energy Cropping overlaps
  significantly with aspects of the environment and forestry, the Crop Science
  groups should take the lead in coordinating work on this topic.


Threats:
 Waterford IT and other IT‟s are well placed to imitate the Crop Production
  degree course and attract the vocational farming students.
 The emphasis by UCD on science research of high international standing
  and the emphasis on attracting „big money‟ may be perceived as being in
  conflict with the service ethos of the Crop Science group for the local
  Agriculture industry. There is a happy medium to be found here.
 Not clear how new potential research areas such as energy crops/
  environmental farming, non-food crops would obtain competitive funding
 If staff are not appointed, group may have insufficient critical mass within a
  large school.
 An over-emphasis on research reports to the neglect of peer-reviewed



                                           20
         academic publications may prejudice their future standing.
       New groupings of schools resulting in separation between production and
        related underlying sciences (e.g. pathology, entomology, soil science
        environment and between food chain and environmental aspects of
        agriculture / horticulture.) Schools must have permeable walls to avoid this
        damaging outcome. Crop Science must also retain input into the food
        production aspects of the horticulture group in the School of Biology and
        the Environment.


5.3   Forestry

      Group details / Planning and Organisation:
       The Forestry group‟s location should be the new School of Biological and
        Environmental Sciences. Although there is no current Chair, the group
        comprises an Associate Professor, two Senior Lecturers and two College
        Lecturers. This can be regarded as a high proportion of senior positions in
        what is a small group.

       As the name “Forestry” will not be in the title of the new School, there is
        concern that the minority discipline will lack a subject champion in the new
        School. The question of the Chair of Forestry (currently vacant) was
        considered by the PRG in this context. The PRG was strongly of the view
        that Forestry must be a recognisable entity within the new School if it is to
        be able to retain its profile in the industry and to the country and if it is to
        continue to attract research funds. It noted that the failure to appoint a
        Chair had already been commented upon adversely outside the University.
        It is a strong recommendation that Forestry be provided with appropriate
        status in the new School to permit it to maintain its external profile. The
        PRG believes that this requires an appointment to the Chair of Forestry
        and that the opportunity should be taken to set the new directions for the
        group by this appointment.

       Forestry has strong links to environmental aspects and there will be many
        opportunities to co-operate in research with biology, horticulture, rural
        development in the new School. However, economics and business
        management are also important. The Forestry Section has already good
        contacts with industry and might use them to develop these areas in
        teaching programmes.

      Taught Programmes/Teaching and Learning:
       Planning and organisation on the teaching courses is carried out well.
        Students identified themselves with the unit quite soon after coming to the
        University.

       Employment prospects for forestry students appear good with up to 20
        graduates per annum required by the industry to meet its needs. Forestry
        education should remain at least as broad as today because the labour
        market is very diverse and requires undergraduates with this breath of
        education.

       Some elements of forestry are introduced in Year 1 and the PRG was in
        favour of introducing these aspects as early as possible in order to retain


                                             21
   student enthusiasm for the subject they came to UCD to study.
   Specialisation takes place in 2nd Year (Stage 2).

 Impressive new undergraduate modules have been developed in recent
  years, but a greater practical component would be welcomed by students.

 Forestry staff members teach 32 credits per year, each credit being 8
  hours. This amounts to 10-12 hours each per week and would be regarded
  as relatively high internationally. The question of the heavy teaching loads
  on staff needs to be examined in the context of the new School, particularly
  given the need to pursue an enhanced research agenda.

 The Forestry course would benefit from better use of external experts from
  business, marketing, energy, recreation and conservation. This would tie
  the programmes better to industry and practical aspects. It would also
  have additional benefits of freeing up staff for research.

 The Modularisation initiative within the University should provide some
  possibilities to meet this need. The PRG recognise that the teaching load of
  the current staff is relatively high and that it is unreasonable to expect that
  the development of the wider aspects of Forestry can be met from within
  the unit.

Research and Scholarly Activity
 Research is primarily in the business area of Irish forestry. Topics comprise
  the new rural development strategy, multi-functional forests and timber
  production.

 The PRG felt that forestry research could benefit from diversifying into
  recreation amenity, biodiversity and wild-life management. Significant
  research opportunities also lie in improving the urban environment, carbon
  sequestration, energy conservation and energy consumption from wood
  biomass. A more intensive approach to developments in international
  forestry could help to expand the research base.

 Funding is mainly from COFORD and typical grants are 0.5 million euro
  over 5 years. There are collaborative projects with Botany, Zoology and
  other groups.

 Three postgraduate students have been awarded Ph.D.s in the past three
  years. The current number of post-graduates is relatively low by
  comparable EU standards.

 Research facilities are sub-optimal and a dedicated technician appears to
  be required. This has also contributed to the relatively weak research
  output.

 The PRG believes that the appointment of a new Chair of Forestry would
  be an opportunity to set new research directions for the group.




                                       22
SWOT Analysis for Forestry

Strengths
 Well-qualified high level staff.
   Well-developed modules within homogenous programmes.
 Good research interactions with Science.
 Elective components of the course encourage breadth of degree and is
  attractive for students from ITs.
 Science-based education. There is a challenge to convince enough
  applicants for undergraduate studies that this remains high value to them.


Weaknesses
 No Chair in the discipline.
 Technical supports for research appeared to be low.
 International dimensions of forestry could be widened.
 Limited emphasis on non-production aspects of forestry.
 No special educational programmes for master and doctor students.
 Small number of publications in reviewed journals.
 Need to become more attractive for British and overseas students.


Opportunities
 Forestry has a long-term prospect as it is planned to increase the forest
  area from the current 10 % to 16 % in 2030. Most of the existing forests will
  be transformed into close-to-nature ecosystems. The functions of the
  forests will continuously further diversify. This will lead to a greater need of
  intensively and sophisticatedly trained experts. Thus the prognosis for
  academic training in the field of forestry and adjoining subjects is good.
 Develop modules to attract undergraduate and postgraduates from other
  institutions.
 Accentuate what differentiates a UCD graduate in Forestry from that of the
  ITs.
 Perhaps the group might look into accreditation of the Forestry course by a
  professional body. This would add credibility and differentiate it from ITs.
 More discussion of research within group and in the new wider School.
  Opportunities to expand research focus into new areas of forestry.


Threats
 Uncertainty of the place of a small unit like Forestry in the new School.
 Concern at ITs carrying out forestry education. If Forestry looses high
  numbers of undergraduates to the ITs, forestry education at UCD is highly



                                       23
        endangered.
       Low numbers of postgraduates threaten viability of research programmes.


5.4   Horticulture Science        (Horticulture,   Sportsturf    and     Landscape
      Management)

      Group details / Planning and Organisation:
       The Horticultural Scientists comprise four academic staff working in an
        evolving group of subject areas. The full Professor will be retiring shortly.

       It is recognised by all concerned that this is an area which has undergone
        considerable change. Commercial Production Horticulture (with some
        exceptions) is diminishing in importance in Ireland and this is reflected in
        the University where annual student enrolments have dropped gradually
        from a peak of 25 in the 1970s to ~5 in 2004. In response, the academic
        staff members have moved into Landscape Horticulture and hence
        Landscape Architecture (see 5.5 below). In recent years the horticultural
        aspects of Sportsturf Management have also been identified as a topic of
        special significance for Ireland.

       The PRG is of the view that the focus on Landscape Horticulture and
        Sportsturf Management is highly appropriate. This is a growth area in the
        economy, there is student interest and there are good research
        possibilities. Graduates in the area of Landscape Horticulture/Sportsturf
        Management will have good job opportunities. However, it should not be
        the only area of research in the future.

       The PRG considered how best the current unit should be accommodated in
        the new School / College structure. It approves of the decision to locate
        the Horticulture/Sportsturf Management group in the School of Biology and
        the Environment. It is also strongly of the view that the current complement
        of staff should be retained as a unit within the new School irrespective of
        existing teaching and research interests. The group should not be split and
        it is the view of the PRG that any such dilution would irreparably damage
        the subject area.

       The PRG feels that the area of Production Horticulture (including fruit and
        vegetables) should be located within the School of Agriculture, Food and
        Veterinary Medicine. The School should be free to decide the appropriate
        resources for this area, for example, in the course of making new
        appointments in Crop Science. However, the PRG is also of the view that
        those in the Horticulture/Sportsturf area in the School of Biology and the
        Environment should be encouraged to contribute to modules in the area of
        Production Horticulture.

       Fruit Husbandry is unlikely to continue as a core area within either School.
        The ITs offer courses in nursery management, fruit and vegetables. These
        are likely to meet demand, especially once these programmes attain
        degree status. Students stated that they would have stayed in the ITs if full
        degrees in Horticulture were on offer. It seems increasingly likely that the
        degree in Horticulture may be given by Blanchardstown IT, while the
        horticultural content will be taught exclusively in Warrenstown.



                                            24
Taught Programmes/Teaching and Learning:
 A new course in Horticulture, Sportsturf and Landscape Management will
  be introduced in the academic year 2005-06. The PRG consider the name
  Horticulture in the title in this course might be limiting and suggest that it
  might be changed to Environmental Horticulture.
 New modules in Landscape Horticulture, Sportsturf Management and wider
  aspects of Social/Environmental Horticulture can be successful and will
  generate student interest and be a basis for further development.

Research and Scholarly Activity
 Publication in peer-reviewed journals is a strong feature of this group.
  Research publications were citeable, and in appropriate journals. The
  PRG was not overly concerned with publishing in journals of low impact
  factor since they were the right locations for the appropriate readership.
  There were also many short diverse publications. Again, this is acceptable
  if it is reaching appropriate target audiences.
 The PRG noted that the research productivity from Horticultural Science
  was predominantly from one or two individuals. The efforts made by some
  academic staff to publish Final Year undergraduate student projects were
  laudable.
 The numbers of postgraduate students were adequate for the size of the
  group. To date, there was a certain focus in specific areas. With the limited
  staff and facilities there is not much room for diversification and staff should
  focus in one or two areas eligible for funding and consistent with their
  current skills.
 The PRG noted that Horticultural Science had evolved as a rather solitary
  discipline and urges the staff to collaborate more with Forestry, Botany and
  other environmental-based disciplines in the new School and elsewhere.
  For example, Urban Forestry is set to be a major growth area and
  Horticulture staff should have the skills to collaborate in this. Other
  examples include Social Horticulture/Horticultural Therapy and staff can
  also make important contributions to Landscape Architecture and plant-
  based/alternative medicines.
 Research areas of Social Horticulture and Non-food Horticulture should be
  basis of focus and any new staff appointments should reflect increasing
  critical mass in this area.
 Research facilities at Thornfield and Rosemount are in need of
  refurbishment and upgrading for potential use by a whole range of plant-
  based research groups. Some equipment was more than 25-years old. In
  addition, the laboratory in the Agriculture building was small and appeared
  poorly maintained. Horticulture staff require a safe, clean and basically-
  equipped controlled environment for the growth of non-food crops.
 Postgraduate students of Horticulture expressed frustration at the level of
  technical assistance they received, but it was also apparent that
  technicians were unclear on priorities of the group and the reporting lines.




                                       25
SWOT Analysis for Horticulture Science


Strengths
 The highly dedicated staff have demonstrated the ability to attract funding
  and produce quality research in this area.
 A clear view by staff of the possibilities in Amenity Horticulture. New
  appointments should reflect this focus and boost critical mass in research.


Weaknesses
 A lack of research interactions with Urban Foresters, Crop Scientists and
  Soil Scientists. The Horticultural Scientists need to broaden their network
  of collaborators in Plant Science and this should be possible given the
  fresh start and stability that the new School offers.


Opportunities
 Appointment of an international expert on Turf Management to a Chair
  (perhaps in Environmental Horticulture) would demonstrate the importance
  of sportsturf within the EU. Ireland could be the leading centre of research
  in this area for Europe. In co-operation with Soil Science and Botany Plant
  Protection, a world centre of excellence could be established.
 This group might consider exploring formation of a teaching or research
  alliance with an IT on an experimental basis to see if there are specialist
  themes and concentrations that might be capitalised upon. This
  arrangement might lead to the best students enrolling for the UCD degree
  and, to this end, a co-ordinated linkage might be possible.
 In the new School of Biology and the Environment, Horticulture should
  foster teaching and research links with groups interested in plant
  physiology, genetically-modified plants and science-based botanic groups.
 This group needs to maintain linkage with the Landscape Architects in
  modular teaching in the School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and the
  Designed Environment and to emphasise the plant aspects of courses in
  Landscape Architecture.
 There is value in continuing interest/collaboration with Production
  Horticulture. For example, there could be novel methods of turf production
  for amenity use exploiting vegetable plug technology to produce species-
  rich meadow turf as well as more conventional amenity turf.


Threats
 The Horticulturists will be a relatively small grouping in a large school and
  may have difficulties in maintaining a profile for their subject. The PRG is
  concerned that if there is no senior member of staff to “fight” the
  horticultural corner, the subject could disappear in time.




                                      26
5.5   Landscape Architecture

      Group details/ Planning and Organisation:
       Landscape Architecture has evolved from a minor component in
        Horticulture to being a significant subject in its own right. Recent staff
        appointments have emphasised this evolution so that the group is now
        staffed by accredited Landscape Architects.
       There are three academic staff, of whom two are full-time.
       The PRG concurs with the decision to place Landscape Architecture in the
        new School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and the Designed
        Environment.
       However, the PRG is strongly of the view that firm links should be
        maintained with Horticulture.        It is most important to ensure that
        Landscape/Environmental Horticulture remains part of the Landscape
        Architecture programme in a manner that emphasises its relevance to
        Landscape Architects. The mutual respect and combined expertise which
        will result from this continuing partnership will make a major contribution to
        the profession of Landscape Architecture internationally and will be a major
        strength of graduates from the Landscape Architecture/Landscape
        Horticulture programmes.
       There are resourcing issues that must now be resolved before the new
        School structure is finalised. The University needs to ensure that this
        discipline is put on a firm resource footing prior to its move.

      Taught Programmes/Teaching and Learning:
       The PRG recognised the efforts that have been devoted to improving the
        teaching and learning facilities of students. However, it is of the view that
        these programmes are now at a stage at which they must be professionally
        accredited. This will require that resources be increased, particularly in
        relation to studio provision. There will also need to be an investment in
        staffing. The PRG is of the view that the minimum requirement is for five
        academic staff. We understand that there is a post that has been approved
        but deferred during the current restructuring. We recommend that this post
        be filled as a matter of urgency.
       The PRG strongly urges retention of a Horticultural component in the
        Landscape Architecture curriculum and that the Landscape Architecture
        staff present it as being an important component. The significant current
        contribution of a Horticulturist to the teaching programme was
        acknowledged by the staff and students. While Horticulture will be going to
        another School, strong linkage must be retained and this should be
        promoted through modularisation.

      Research and Scholarly Activity
         There is a need to develop a research culture in the group. However, the
          PRG recognises that the nature of research and the modes of publication
          must follow international norms for Landscape Architecture and that this
          will not necessarily be the same as for other (especially science-based)
          disciplines.



                                            27
SWOT Analysis for Landscape Architecture


Strengths
 Highly committed staff in Landscape Architecture.
 Growth in student numbers.
 Potential for accredited courses for professional degree.


Weaknesses
 Low number of full-time academic staff.
 Staff have little time for research.
 Design studios are inadequate for needs of increasing student numbers.


Opportunities
 Opportunities for strong growth and the development of a professional
  discipline.
 Can retain Horticultural Science input to courses by modularisation.
 Linkage with architects will forge common areas of research and teaching.
 There is an opportunity to go into a new School with major issues resolved.


Threats
 Minority discipline in the new School, which will be run primarily in a
  different location. Head of Group must make impact on governance
  committees and make sure subject is visible.
 Landscape Architecture will continue to be located in the Agri-Food and the
  Environment Building, at least for the time being. The PRG is of the view
  that this continuing arrangement may not be the most comfortable for them,
  especially with regard to resource sharing, where it occurs. This will need
  careful monitoring and management.




                                         28
6.   General Recommendations

     The PRG has made a number of recommendations throughout its analysis of
     each section within the Department. Here it draws together the main
     recommendations but it will be important to read this section in conjunction
     with section 5 to obtain the full range of the PRG‟s comments.

     School Structures and Staffing
     1. The PRG agrees with the new School locations of all four groupings.
     2. The Horticultural Science group should stay as a unit within the School of
        School of Biology and the Environment and not split across two Schools.
     3. There should be chairs in Forestry, Crop Science, Environmental
        Horticulture/Sportsturf Management, but these should ideally be people
        with research complementary to that of the staff in the current and future
        new School groups.
     4. Impending staff appointments and replacement of retirees should take in
        to account the new research remits of the groups in their new schools.
     5. The resourcing issues, both staffing and physical, in Landscape
        Architecture must be addressed before they join their new School if they
        are to develop as the PRG believes they should.
     Teaching and Learning
     6. There should be a review of the Science content of the early part of all
        programmes to ensure that the relevance of the material taught is clearly
        apparent to students. It is important to engage students with their
        specialist subject to some extent in the first semester of Year 1 and tailor
        courses accordingly.
     7. Implement best practice procedures for undergraduate and postgraduate
        teaching.
     8. The recruitment of a greater number of graduate students must be a
        priority.
     9. Measures must be taken to reduce the isolation experienced by many
        graduate students.
     Research
     10. Strategic research links should be formed with relevant groups in the new
         Schools. Cross-disciplinary research should be encouraged between
         former sections of the Department in the increasingly important areas of
         Environmental Management.
     11. The research facilities at Lyons, Thornfield and Rosemount require
         upgrading. There have been several reports for the University that require
         acting upon with regard to their future.
     12. The four sections of the Department have been doing very well in some
         aspects for a sustained period and the majority of staff are highly
         motivated, especially in relation to their commitment to teaching. Well-
         funded research contracts and peer reviewed papers in high impact
         journals are indeed very important to UCD, but they are not the only
         measure by which the success of the University, these academic areas, or
         the staff within them should be measured.


                                           29
13. Publication strategies need to be tailored to best international practice
    within the disciplines. These groups should aim to demonstrate excellence
    in their niche of community and industry-related research, and in achieving
    a balance between effective teaching and provision of a satisfying
    experience for their students.




                                      30
7.   Response of the Co-ordinating Committee to the Peer Review
     Group Report

     The following members of the Committee met to discuss the Report. Dr Trevor
     Storey, Dr Mary Forrest, Dr Conor O‟Reilly and Mr Tom Moore. Ms Valerie
     Guilfoyle was on sick leave and Mr Kevin Keenan was on holidays.


     1.3 Courses and Programmes
     The list of courses on Page 5 while it gives a good indication of the courses
     offered is not entirely complete. It also it should be noted that particularly in
     the Horticulture area, a number of courses are common to both degree
     programmes.


     Page 14
     “It was put to the PRG that access by graduate students to technical support
     was ad hoc and haphazard, leading to inequities”
     also Page 25
     “Postgraduate students of Horticulture expressed frustration at the level of
     technical assistance they received . . .”
     The Committee feels these statements are not a true representation of the
     excellent assistance and co-operation given by the technical staff, but are
     more a reflection of an isolated incident.


     Page 15
     “In addition, recognition by the Department of the need to teach transferable
     skills . . . was quite limited”
     The committee feels that staff are fully aware of the importance of teaching
     transferable skills and that students are informed of their importance. Some
     new course modules have already been introduced.


     “The value and importance of the First Year General Science programme was
     not universally understood by students”
     The Committee would acknowledge that while this had previously been the
     case, it would like to emphasise that great efforts are being made with the
     introduction of the new programmes to correct the situation.


     Page 21 “Crop Science must also retain input into the food production aspects
     of the horticulture group in the School of Biology and the Environment”
     Crop Science did not previously have any input into the food production
     aspects of the Horticulture degree programmes.


     5.3 Forestry
     “This can be regarded as a high proportion of senior positions in what is a


                                            31
small group”
The Committee feels that this comment is open to different interpretations. It
could infer that in any department there should be a particular distribution of
grades. In fact with the introduction of benchmarking this is not the case e.g.
all staff in a department could be at a senior level provided the required
benchmarks have been met.


Page 22
“Research is primarily in the business area of Irish Forestry”
“The PRG felt that research could benefit from diversifying into . . .”
These points are not fully accurate as research is already underway in several
areas listed under the second point.
“Research facilities are sub-optimal and a dedicated technician appears to be
required. This has also contributed to the relatively weak research output.”
The Committee feels that the words “relatively weak research output” if taken
in isolation may give a false impression of the research output. Consideration
must be given to the generally high teaching loads of the group and that
research output from individual staff members may be variable as was noted
in the other sections of the Report.


5.4 Horticultural     Science    (Horticulture,   Sportsturf     and      Landscape
Management)
“In response, the academic staff members have moved into Landscape
Horticulture and hence Landscape Architecture”
This statement is not correct as no movement of staff has taken place.


“The PRG is of the view that the focus on Landscape Horticulture and
Sportsturf Management is highly appropriate”
The committee feels that the use of the term “Landscape Horticulture” in this
context and also elsewhere in the Report will create a lot of confusion with the
term “Landscape Architecture”.
It should be noted in Ireland, where the profession is relatively new, the study
and practice of Landscape Architecture has traditionally been known as
Landscape Horticulture. The profession of Landscape Architecture is
recognised internationally by that name and UCD will from September 2005
adopt the name change from Landscape Horticulture to Landscape
Architecture. It should be noted that this is a name change only and that the
core content of the education programme remains unchanged.
The statement above is therefore confusing in that the PRG are of the opinion
that the focus on Landscape Horticulture within the programme Horticulture
Science (Horticulture, Sportsturf and Landscape Management) is highly
appropriate. The Committee feels that any change of the Horticulture,
Sportsturf and Landscape Management programme title or programme
content should consciously avoid confusion with the programme Landscape
Architecture (formerly Landscape Horticulture).




                                        32
“Fruit Husbandry is unlikely to continue as a core area within either school.”
Fruit Husbandry is a component of the new Horticulture, Sportsturf and
Landscape Management degree programme.


Page 25 “In addition, the laboratory in the Agriculture building was small and
appeared poorly maintained”.
While the facilities are not modern by comparison with other laboratories and
taking into consideration the high number of postgraduate students working in
the “small” laboratory and that no attempt was made to have the laboratory
ultra clean solely for the purpose of the visit, i.e. it was presented as a working
laboratory, the Committee feel that the statement that it “appeared poorly
maintained” is not correct.

5.5 Landscape Architecture
“Recent staff appointments have emphasised this evolution so that the group
is now staffed by accredited Landscape Architects”
This statement infers that prior to “recent” staff appointments the group was
staffed by non-accredited Landscape Architects. Depending on what is meant
by “recent”, the staff have been accredited for at least a decade.

Re 4th and 7th Bullet Points
“The PRG is strongly of the view that firm links should be maintained with
Horticulture . . .“
Paragraphs 4 and 7 further emphasise the confusion between Landscape
Architecture and Landscape Horticulture. Landscape Architecture is not a new
course but only a change in degree title and it is not intended to reduce the
horticultural content of the programme. The importance of horticulture remains
unmodified by the name change to Landscape Architecture and the continued
contribution from horticulturalists from other Schools will be assured by the
“permeable walls” of the new structures.

“. . . will be a major strength of graduates from the Landscape
Architecture/Landscape Horticulture programmes.”
The confusion that might arise from the use of “Landscape Architecture” and
“Landscape Horticulture” has already been referred to.




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