Project Focus – The Importance of Understanding in Relationship Management


The Advance Centre is one of the 24 HEA funded projects set up in 2020 as a part of the Human Capital Investment Pillar 3 (HCI). This was a government investment focused on increasing capacity in higher education, in skills-focused programmes designed to meet priority skills needs. Pillar 3 is specifically aimed at delivering innovation and agility to create an impact across the higher education system. The purpose of the ADVANCE Centre is, in collaboration with the participating three partner Higher Education Institutes (HEI): UCD, ATU Sligo and TU Dublin, to develop, market and deliver part-time and full-time graduate level educational programmes. The ambition of the Centre is to enable the delivery of flexible courses in digital transformation, through collaboration between HEIs and industry.

In the times we live now, when “change is the new constant”, higher education systems must be especially quick and responsive in adapting ambitious strategies and creating new opportunities for learners. What does this mean on a practical level though? Working in a small team as part of the Advance Centre in UCD highlights the need for developing and maintaining good relationships within the wider university’s community to be able to fully acknowledge opportunities. A lot of these became apparent in the marketing and communication areas. Thanks to collaboration with college Marketing teams, UCD Alumni, Schools, the Advance Centre was able to spotlight government initiatives like EU Year of Skills 2023, holding a series of webinars sharing insights from faculty and industry leaders on current trends in digital transformation. Finding a common ground allows all staff to come forward, work alongside and strengthen the message rather than duplicate resources.

Moving towards flexible and online learning as one of the options in course offering for professional learners requires consolidated effort and investment in time. Another HCI pillar 3 project- UCD Micro credentials leading in the designing and provision of micro-credentials that allow learners to acquire skills and competencies through bite-sized pieces of learning, – provided an opportunity for the Advance Centre to collaborate in the delivery of micro-credentials in areas like Data Science, Health Data Science, Financial Mathematics and Cyber Security. Their recent launch of micro-credential fields in the CMS, supports the Advance Centre in promoting skills-oriented messages in curriculum design.

When new initiatives like the Advance Centre have been introduced, they can be perceived at times as disruptive because they could challenge common assumptions about what can or cannot be achieved. Creating a sense of urgency in prioritising its objectives may not necessarily be a popular message either, especially when the outcomes don’t appear to be achieved as quickly as expected. However, it is through investing in a good network of relationships thanks to staff and faculty collaboration that helps identify a common voice and spread the need to innovate and make a positive impact.

Written by Joanna Kozielec

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