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From Melbourne, Australia’s Knowledge Capital, to Destination Dublin
Can Melbourne’s dual strategies of knowledge-city development and international student focus be achieved in Dublin?
In contrast to Melbourne, where dedicated resources for international students are in place, the DRHEA envisages that its objectives will be met through combining the resources of the international offices of the HEI partners. It was agreed that each partner would contribute to the best of its ability and that partners would participate in some actions but not in others (DIT 2007). Given the recent economic downturn and substantial budget reductions which have ensued, it is not clear what resources will be available to the DRHEA or its partners going forward.
In relation to ongoing research on the Dublin experience, there is no provision for this in the DRHEA policy beyond the initial needs analysis of international students. Nor is there any information on how the results of this needs analysis, should it be completed, will impact on future policies and strategies.
Clearly, the DRHEA’s internationalization strand is very much focused on student recruitment and less so on enhancing the student experience. However, in the current economic climate, the DRHEA appears to be trapped in a vicious circle: without increasing international student numbers, its members will not have the required financial resources to develop projects aimed at enhancing the Dublin experience; without enhancing the Dublin experience, the DRHEA may not succeed in increasing international student numbers.
5. Recommendations for future developments in the Dublin city-region
Although it is clear that Melbourne’s dual approach could be largely replicated in Dublin, the following recommendations are based not on a wish-list approach, whereby endless resources are available, but rather take account of current conditions and constraints.
5.1 Knowledge-city development
- Identify the key strengths of the regional stakeholders collectively, rather than individually. The DCC Office of International Relations and Research, which is already up and running, could lead this project.
- Develop projects based on the region’s key strengths. Use the combined resources of the members of the DCC and DRHEA governing bodies, particularly the IDA, Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Ireland, which already have a wealth of experience in the area.
- Ensure that projects and events have scope for optimal collaboration between all triple-helix stakeholders and that they allow for maximum showcasing of the region’s strengths. Successfully bidding for the 2012 World Congress on Science could be an example of this.
- Develop a website to market the city-region and provide high-quality information on knowledge resources, as well as information on living, working and studying in Dublin. Destination Dublin information-packs could also be created. The financial and human resources of the regional actors could be pooled to achieve this.