Global impact: The Postgraduate course changing lives in developing countries

Unique UN Environment GEMS course gets to the source of water problems

                                                                                                                                            (Photos: UN Environment GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre)


A UCC-based United Nations Environment centre has created a unique Postgraduate course to teach potentially life-saving water quality monitoring techniques to developing countries.

The UN Environment GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre is part of UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the Environmental Research Institute.

In September 2017, the Centre rolled out the PGDip Freshwater Quality Monitoring and Assessment, with the aim of recruiting students already involved, or seeking to specialise, in water quality monitoring and assessment.

“If you monitor the water quality, it is the first step in the process of taking care of everything else.”

Debbie Chapman, Director of the Centre, explains that the course – a two-year, part-time programme run through e-learning – aims to provide the ‘missing information link’ for developing countries where poor quality water is a life-threatening norm.

“People literally gather the water from wherever they can for their daily water needs, and they have no idea whether it’s of good quality or not,” Debbie says.

“They don’t realise that it’s important to know the quality of the rivers, the lakes, the ground waters and reservoirs.”

Through the Diploma course – which supports the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the Centre aims to raise awareness and provide the skills to help rectify this issue.

Students in the first module – all 20 of whom are studying remotely, in Africa and the Caribbean – are learning the essentials of developing and implementing a monitoring and assessment system for the quality of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and ground waters.

Students are learning how to tell if water is fit for use, the possible causes of pollution, and how to determine the quality of the water; combining laboratory techniques, data handling and even field work.

Many of the students are already working for the Governments of their countries, which means they can directly apply what they learn to meet their own national needs as well as international requirements.

And graduating with these vital new skills, the students will have an even greater impact in their local and national communities.

“It’s really important to get countries to realise that, if you monitor the water quality it is the first step in the process of taking care of everything else – your health and your economic development,” explains Debbie.

“Because you need water of good quality for domestic use, jobs, business, industry, safe irrigation of food crops - all of those things depend on the rivers, the lakes and the ground waters that we use.”

For more information on UN Environment GEMS/Water CDC, please follow this link.

The brightest future: Asylum seeking community welcomed with sanctuary scholarships

A 'Blueprints' artist with two of his biggest fans! (Photo: Clare Keogh)

University College Cork was presented with its official University of Sanctuary designation at a special event during its inaugural Refugee Week.

The designation formally recognises UCC as a place where people learn what sanctuary means, as well as recognising the university’s sustained culture of welcome.

The award follows the announcement that UCC will be offering full scholarships to seven asylum seekers. The scholarships will cover full tuition fees, while bursaries funded by the Tomar Trust will fund travel and other expenses.

The award presentation was made in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, where children living under direct provision have been attending art classes.

"Students have been very active in supporting children from direct provision centres"

Deputy President and Registrar John O’Halloran presented the University of Sanctuary designation while officially opening ‘Blueprints’, an exhibition of nature-inspired work by the young artists.

The Glucksman Gallery team’s work with children from the asylum seeking community forms one strand of a collaborative, university-wide history of advocacy for refugees and families living under direct provision.

“The designation gave us a focal point around which to bring together all of the different pieces of work that were happening in different sections of the university,” explains Dr Máire Leane, Dean of the Deputy President and Registrar's Office

“It was everything from research, to the work of the Glucksman around the creative arts, and using that as a way of inclusion along with the advocacy work that staff and students were doing.”

'Blueprints' artists and family members with Dr Máire Leane, Deputy President & Registrar John O'Halloran, Fiona Kearney, Dr Karl Kitching, and members of UCC's STAR Society. (Photo: Clare Keogh) 


Dr Karl Kitching, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at UCC, adds that the university's student societies played a significant role in the milestone.

Along with the work of the STAR [Student Action for Refugees] Society, Dr Kitching explains: “The Amnesty International Society has been very active in supporting children and young people coming to UCC campus for parties and events, to give them a bit of respite from the accommodation centres.”



The sanctuary scholarship programme will officially begin in September 2018. For queries, you can get in touch via email, at 

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