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CONNECT Building Officially Opened by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD at TU Dublin Blanchardstown

Posted: 3 April, 2019

TU Dublin was delighted to welcome An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D. and Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor T.D. last week for the official opening of CONNECT, the new Student Services Building at TU Dublin within the Blanchardstown Campus.

Dr Mary Meaney (TU Dublin), An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD and Dr. Diarmuid O'Callaghan (TU Dublin)

The CONNECT building will bring together academic decision-makers with the key service providers in the one location. Before the opening of CONNECT, these functions were dispersed throughout the campus which at times could present a challenge for students. Now the message to students is singular - 'If you have a query, go to CONNECT. The people who can help you are all there.'

The decision to co-locate academic management with services is unique in a higher education setting and allows for a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing issues that students can present with. In part, the co-location reflects the integration of services more directly into the student's learning experience and is born of a need to meet the needs of an incredibly diverse and growing student population on the Blanchardstown Campus more effectively and efficiently. CONNECT recognises the need to eliminate false divides in the delivery of higher education and, importantly, attend to heart and head in an integrated way across all dimensions of the educational experience.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said, "TU Dublin is the only university in Ireland offering programmes from apprenticeships to doctorates. This is something that I hope other institutions will look to emulate. We want to give students more choice, and make it easier for them to access all levels of education and reskilling opportunities".

"Education is the single best route to a better life and higher education should be available to everyone regardless of their gender, physical ability or background. This is precisely the aim of TU Dublin; to provide the widest possible access and progression pathways for students, old and young, those on-site or learning virtually, full-time or part-time".

"I'd like to congratulate the team in TU Dublin for delivering this impressive CONNECT Building, which will enhance the student experience on the Blanchardstown campus."

Dr. Diarmuid O'Callaghan, Principal at TU Dublin - Blanchardstown Campus said, "I consider the opportunity presented by designation as a Technological University to be the single biggest opportunity that any of us working in higher education will be afforded in our working career. It has the potential to truly transform educational opportunities for the people of Dublin. A critical aspect of our work is to meet the individual needs of our students and to offer an inclusive experience for all students. This building is just our next step in supporting an inclusive experience for all learners on this campus".

The construction project saw an opportunity to incorporate elements of Universal Design with the assistance of The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, which is part of the National Disability Authority. "Building for Everyone: A Universal Design Approach" provides comprehensive best practice guidance on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces so that they can be readily accessed and used by everyone, regardless of age, size ability or disability.

The SEAI's Excellence in Energy Efficiency Design (EXEED) programme has also been utilised on this project which ensures a systematic approach to design, construction and commissioning processes for new investments.