Trinity College Dublin last night launched its Strategic Plan at a reception in which the Provost presented the Minister for Education with a copy of the plan. It has played well in a piece by Sean Flynn in today’s Irish Times, under the headline “Trinity seeks 25% increase in postgraduates”, and focussing on the plan’s strong emphasis on increased research activity and aim to improve Trinity’s position in world rankings as a consequence.
It is an important development, and I welcome it wholeheartedly, but I feel the need to sound a note of caution. The process of developing such institutional policy consumes large amounts of time and talent, and the best way to ensure that generating the plan is not merely a pro forma exercise to keep Government and funding bodies happy is to take the plan seriously. But it is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Like any such plan, it should be respected and followed, and allowed to direct developments; but respect and fidelity should not impose constraints, and institutional policy should not be allowed to shackle the creativity of the individual academic.