U21 Champions in the time of COVID-19: University College Dublin

In these difficult and turbulent times U21 wants to create some positivity to share around the network.  We want to recognise and celebrate those people who have made a real difference to their colleagues and their workplace during the pandemic – our U21 Champions. 

The second of our champions, Caroline Mangan, Global Experience Manager, was nominated by Dr Douglas Proctor, Director of UCD Global for going above and beyond to support the arrival and welcome of international students to UCD:

Caroline Mangan UCD Covid Champion
Caroline Mangan UCD U21 Champion

'Caroline worked with calm and resolve, drawing on the resources in her own team of staff and reaching out to other colleagues in UCD Global and across the university for additional support to welcome our international students.

In early August, the Irish higher education sector adopted a sectoral protocol entitled “Welcoming international students back to Irish Higher Education Institutions in safety”.  Intended to support students arriving in Ireland from overseas, this protocol was enacted to ensure that student arrivals were managed and coordinated, and to protect public health and the safety of all students, staff and the wider community.

With UCD enrolling the largest cohort of international students in Ireland, Caroline moved very quickly to put in place a multi-stranded response, breaking new ground on a daily basis in terms of processes and systems.

In a very short timeframe, Caroline liaised with the Irish Universities Association on the establishment of a nationally-coordinated meet and greet service at the airport, and the implementation of a free airport transfer service for students. She worked with UCD IT Services to establish the necessary online arrival form for students, as well as a daily health tracker mechanism to enable international students to actively monitor their health for 14 days before and after travelling. Meanwhile, Caroline was in constant communication with UCD Residences to facilitate access to on-campus accommodation for those students who needed to restrict their movements for 14 days, as well as for those who wanted to take up UCD's offer of ongoing campus accommodation. She then liaised with the UCD Student Health Service and the Dean of Students to prepare a targeted briefing for international students on how to comply with Irish public health measures.

The various measures outlined in the Irish sectoral protocol for international students were unprecedented, and required significant coordination both on-campus and with external providers.  Nevertheless, despite working remotely and with family responsibilities over the summer, Caroline led out on these complex initiatives with determination and a clear vision. In addition, she recorded and broadcast video briefings for students and supported the development of a revised student orientation programme with new elements designed for students who would need to restrict their movements for 14 days on arrival.

In the end, UCD has enabled a sizeable cohort of new and continuing international students to arrive (or return) in safety. They have been welcomed and transported to their accommodation, briefed on public health, and supported with their transition to life in Ireland. None of this would have happened smoothly with Caroline's leadership.'

Caroline commented:

'The past year has presented enormous challenges for the international education sector but it has also been a time of opportunity, a time for creative thinking, problem-solving and working collaboratively to achieve a set of goals, which in many cases, have had to be re-imagined.

International education means different things to different people and we have seen the hope and aspiration which students have carried with them as they set out on their travels to UCD this year. The UCD Global Experience team, along with other colleagues in UCD Global and the wider university, have worked hard to put processes and systems in place to support international students in navigating these uncertain times.

I'm delighted to be nominated as a U21 Champion and I look forward to connecting with colleagues in Ireland and further afield, to continue sharing and learning from each other as we carve new paths and consider a new landscape for the international student experience.'

Congratulations to Caroline.