Taoiseach praises Age-Friendly University initiative

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has praised the tremendous work done by DCU in developing an Age-Friendly University initiative.

The initiative highlights the role that universities can play in responding to the various opportunities and challenges associated with an ageing population. It aims to encourage the participation of older adults in all the core activities of the university, including education programmes, research and innovation, as well as health, fitness, social and cultural activities.

Speaking at the launch last Friday, the Taoiseach was full of praise for DCU. “I want to congratulate DCU on the tremendous work in bringing this initiative to fruition. Through this initiative, DCU is taking a leadership role in preparing society for the multifaceted challenges of our aging demographic.

“It will actively encourage older people to come into our higher education institutions and to become involved in shaping university programmes. The age friendly activities being promoted are both relevant and correctly targeted at promoting the quality of life of our older men and women.”

As part of the initiative, an external advisory group, which included older members of the community, identified 10 main principles for an age-friendly university. Those principles include intergenerational learning programmes which encourage current students and older adults to learn together, flexible academic programmes, a ‘Taste of DCU’, which gives older adults the opportunity to experience university life for a day and second career programmes, which focus on career changes in later life, including entrepreneurial opportunities.

Speaking at the launch, DCU President, Prof Brian MacCraith spoke of the need to deal with the implications of a larger ageing population and described it as a significant development for higher education and the older population.

Recent DCU graduate, Amy Ni Lucais interned with the President’s Office and the Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) during the summer and was involved in the development of the programme.

Speaking with The College View after the launch she said: “I organised the ‘Taste of DCU’ day held this September gone. I liased with all involved from the President’s Office, HERC, Trudy Corrigan who was great to with work, and the internal and external working groups.

Ni Lucais also welcomed the initiative. “Personally my grand parents did a lot for me growing up so I have always felt that education shouldn’t stop at any age. My nanny was always extremely active in politics and social change. I have always been for open education regardless of age, social background, finance etc. so this was just another brilliant aspect of education that included so many. I loved the summer working on the Age-Friendly University and feel proud that today was the result.”

Similar initiatives will also be launched in the US and the UK based on the Age-Friendly University initiative in DCU.

Aoife Mullen

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