News & Events

SALI Success for UCC

29 Nov 2021

UCC is delighted to announce approval for a new post under the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI).

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (29 November 2021) announced the approval of 10 posts at senior academic level in higher education.

This announcement is being made under Cycle 2 of the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI), the goal of which is to accelerate progress in achieving gender balance at the senior academic level in Higher Education Institutions and brings the total number of posts awarded under SALI to 30.

Minister Harris said:  

“Championing equality and diversity is one of the key goals of my Department. The Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI) is an important initiative aimed at advancing gender equality and the representation of women at the highest levels in our higher education institutions.  I am delighted to announce that seven of our institutions have been successful under this second SALI call, securing an additional 10 posts.  The posts awarded span a range of disciplinary areas, from Biochemical Engineering, to Sustainable Geoscience, Intersectional Humanities and Pharmaceutical Engineering. These posts will not only have a significant impact in terms of gender equality, but they will also contribute to wider societal goals through research and education.  I have no doubt that the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative will attract outstanding applicants from within the higher education sector in Ireland and internationally.  This initiative is one of a number of actions in the 2018 Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan aimed at bringing about sustainable organisational change and empowering a culture of gender equality in higher education institutions.  I am pleased to see the progress that has been made across the higher education institutions in embedding this culture of gender equality.  It is vital that this momentum is maintained and that we also work holistically in addressing all aspects of equality.  I’d like to thank the HEA and members of the international advisory panel for their expert input to the SALI process”.

The posts now being announced were approved by an expert international assessment panel chaired by Professor Chantal Davies, Professor of Law, Equality and Diversity in the School of Law at the University of Chester. Further posts under SALI Cycle 2 may be approved from a reserve list in 2022.  Recruitment of these posts will now be initiated by the relevant HEIs. The recruitment process in each HEI will take place to the highest standards of assessment, evaluation and rigour consistent with the seniority of the posts to ensure the quality and excellence of the appointments made in due course.

First launched in 2019, the SALI forms part of a suite of initiatives to progress gender equality in higher education, as set out in the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan 2018-2020.

In August 2020, the remit of the HEA’s Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality was expanded to cover all areas of equality, diversity and inclusion. As part of this extended remit, the HEA has been working with stakeholders to advance work in the area of race equality, in addition to continuing its role in supporting sustainable change on gender equality, by providing centralised support for institutions, sharing of good practice, and funding innovative organisational and cultural change initiatives nationally.

A key objective of SALI is to strengthen gender diversity at the senior leadership level within HEIs and to encourage the benefits that such diversity can deliver.   

The 2021 Report on Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender, which has now been published by the HEA, shows that in December 2020, while in the university sector some 52% of lecturers were female, only 27% of professors were female. This however represents an improvement on the previous year, where 26% of professors were female. In the Institute of Technology (IoT) sector, some 49% of lecturers are female, but only 36% senior lecturer positions were held by female staff.  Analysis carried out by the 2018 Gender Taskforce on the estimated rate of change suggested that with the continuation of current recruitment and promotion practices, it could take up to 20 years to achieve an average of 40% females at professor level in the university sector.

The Taskforce recommended that new and additional gender-specific posts, at appropriate levels, as well as other positive action measures, where they would be a proportionate and an effective means to achieve rapid and sustainable change, should be considered.  SALI has been designed and implemented on the basis of the consistency of the initiative which has been confirmed by the Attorney General with national and EU employment law.

To secure additional posts under this initiative, one of the key requirements of the higher education institutions is that they have a gender action plan in place and can demonstrate that they are progressing their gender equality objectives and targets to achieve real organisational and cultural change.

This Initiative is a targeted positive action which aims to accelerate gender balance objectives at senior academic leadership levels in Irish higher education institutions. These seven institutions will now commence their recruitment processes, and it is expected that these posts will be in place in 2022.

This second call for applications to the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative was issued by the Higher Education Authority to institutions in October 2020. An international Assessment Panel was appointed to evaluate the applications received. The Assessment Panel consisted of 14 members, with gender equality expertise, as well as broad disciplinary and strategic level expertise.

A total of 20 institutions submitted applications under the process, and these were individually assessed by Assessment Panel members. The Assessment Panel then met on the 16th April, 2021, at which an independent process auditor was also present. A total of 7 institutions have been approved for 10 Senior Academic Leadership Initiative posts under Cycle 2 in 2021, in areas such as Sustainable Finance, Biochemical Engineering, Humanities, and Sustainability GeoScience. Further posts under SALI Cycle 2 may be approved from a reserve list in 2022.

Information on the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative is available on the HEA website here:

A copy of the HEA 2021 Report on Higher Education Institutional Staff Profiles by Gender is available here:




Post title


Chair of Biochemical Engineering


Professor of Intersectional Humanities


Professor of Innovation and

Sustainability in Engineering,

Construction and Built Environment


Professor of Quantum Technology


Full Professor of Pharmaceutical Engineering


Professor of Observational Astrophysics or Cosmology


Chair of Digital Engineering


Full Professor in Sustainable Finance


Full Professor of Sustainability Geoscience


Professor of Chemistry



SALI Assessment Panel


Professor Udy Archibong - University of Bradford

Professor Tomas Brage - Lund University

Professor Paul Carmichael - Ulster University

Professor Chantal Davies - University of Chester      

Professor Scott Fleming - Bishop Grosseteste University

Professor Gabriele Griffin - Uppsala University Sweden

Dr Vanessa Ho - St. George’s University of London

Professor Liisa Husu - Örebro University

Dr Simona Isler - Swiss National Science Foundation

Dr Carl Jacobsson - Swedish Research Council

Professor Tom Millar - Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Jörg Müller - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Dr Pavel Ovseiko - University of Oxford

Professor Gülsün Sağlamer - Istanbul Technical University


For more on this story contact:

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit

Comhionannas, Éagsúlacht agus Ionchuimsitheacht

South Lodge, College Road, University College, Cork, T12 RXA9