Alumni News

UA Signs Three-Year Partnership Agreement With Uversity

UA is delighted to welcome Uversity to its group of University Partners, having signed an agreement providing for a three-year global partnership.




Established in 2012, Uversity is a new concept in the Irish higher education landscape. Uversity is a Recognised College of the National University of Ireland and a partnership of 24 higher education institutions on the island of Ireland. Uversity’s mission is to facilitate Ireland becoming a world-class destination for Higher Education in Culture and the Creative Arts.

Uversity currently offers international students an unrivalled opportunity to design a personalised Master of Arts in Creative Arts. Uversity students attend a core module, enrol on modules from the partner institutions, spend time engaged with practice and interacting with Ireland’s artistic and cultural communities and complete a final project. Modules are offered in Art and Design, Cinema and Broadcast Arts, Creative Cultural Industries, Creative Technologies, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama and Theatre Studies, Literature, Arts and Culture and Music.

Speaking about the partnership, CEO of Uversity, Colleen Dube said: “Having watched The Undergraduate Awards exciting and exponential growth over the last number of years, I am delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with them in recognising and rewarding, connecting and collaborating some of the world’s best and brightest students. We are hope this partnership will assist us attracting students to Ireland to unlock their and Ireland’s creative potential through our Master of Arts in Creative Process.”

“We’re thrilled to announce this partnership,” said Louise Hodgson, UA’s Executive Director. “It’s been very exciting witnessing Uversity launch its unique Master of Arts programme, and I believe the university offers something truly inspiring for students of the arts. The opportunity to combine subjects across the spectrum of the creative process while also travelling across campuses in Ireland working collaboratively with others on the course is something we’re looking forward to promoting to UA applicants.”

Uversity will take part in the UA Global Summit 2015, which will feature the Winners and a selection of Highly Commended Entrants in this year’s awards programme. The UA Global Summit kicks off on November 10th, bringing 150 of the top performing entrants together for a four-day boutique summit event in Dublin, Ireland.

Uversity will be accepting applications for its 2016-2017 Master of Arts in Creative Process from 1st October 2015 to 31st March 2016.

The Undergraduate Awards 2015 Medal

To create, one must first question everything – Eileen Gray

This year The Undergraduate Awards medal will feature Irish designer, artist and architect Eileen Gray. Every year Overall Winners of The Undergraduate Awards receive a medal to recognise their academic excellence. Previous medals have featured leading Irish ‘minds’; George Berkeley, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and William Hamilton.  All Winners are brought to the UA Global Summit 2015, a 4-day networking event to meet each other, listen to inspiring Speakers and present their work to each other.

Eileen Gray was chosen to feature on the medal this year as 2015 marks the year of Irish design, where Ireland celebrates Irish and International designers.

Design shapes our daily lives, influencing how we interact with each other and with our environment. At its best, design is a powerful catalyst for change.

Irish Design 2015, under the patronage of President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, is about harnessing this power and working to support societyeducators and studentsdesigners; the public sector; and businesses. As well as this, Eileen Gray will be the first woman to feature on The Undergraduate Awards medal.

Born in Ireland in 1878, Gray’s work was neglected for the most of her career but is now regarded as one of the most important of the early 20th century. Gray was among the first women to be admitted to the Slade school in London, where she took up painting in 1898 before undergoing an apprenticeship in a London lacquer workshop. She continued to improve her craft at the École Colarossi and the Académie Julian when she established herself as one of the leading designers of the lacquered screens and decorative panels, so popular at the time of the Art Deco era.

In her lacquer work and carpets, she merged traditional crafts with the principles of Fauvism, Cubism and De Stijl. She was the first designer to work in chrome, preceding such acclaimed designers as Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, Mies Van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer; and was original in her use of aluminium, celluloid, tubular steel, bakelite and cork in her designs.

E-1027 Table

E-1027 Table


Her collection can be viewed in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks in Dublin or her pieces can be viewed online here.

Her house, E-1027 is considered Gray’s first considerable architectural design and is located on the Cotê d’Azure. Instead of a sentimental seaside name, Gray chose a streamlined numerological symbol for her relationship with Badovici, her lover: ‘E’ was for ‘Eileen’, the ’10’ and ‘2’ represented Badovici’s initials—according to their place in the alphabet—and the ‘7’ was for ‘G’, so that Gray was, in a sense, embracing him: E-1027.



A documentary of Eileen Gray produced by Irish broadcaster TG4 can be found here (subtitles included): Part 1 (12 mins) focuses on her background and early life and Part 2 (13 mins) introduces us to her life in Paris and E -1027, the Machine for Living and Le Corbusier. Or take a tour of the house with this video by Patrick Moya and Florence Canarelli.

The shortlist for The Undergraduate Awards will be announced in early September and the list will be published on our website. We look forward to welcoming Winners and Highly Commended Students to the Global Summit, which takes place from November 10th – 13th 2015.  More information on the prize can be found at The Prize.

Previous medals of The Undergraduate Awards include:

2009 – William Rowan Hamilton, Irish Physicist, Astronomer, and Mathematician.
2010 –  William Butler Yeats, Irish Poet.
2011 –   Oscar Wilde, Author, Poet & Playwright.
2012 –  Ernest Walton, Physicist and Noble laureate.
2013 –  Bram Stoker, Irish author of Dracula (2013 celebrated the year of Bram Stoker).
2014 –  George Berkeley, Mathematician & Physicist.

Ten Facts about the Irish Education System in 2015

Here are ten facts about the higher education system into which the Class of 2015 are entering:

  1. One in every twenty-two people in Ireland is a higher education student (either full time or part-time) – 4.6% of the population.
  2. That represents over 210,000 students (about the population of Co. Kildare) – an increase of 44,000 in a decade. About 170,000 are full time and 40,000 part-time.
  3. 38,000 students are studying at postgraduate level – about the population of Co. Longford.
  4. There are 3,500 more female students in higher education than male students. At undergraduate level, the balance between males and females is 50:50, but there is a higher percentage of females at postgraduate level (54% female to 46% male).
  5. Over one in ten full time students come from abroad and of these, three quarters are from outside the European Union, including 8% from the Southern Hemisphere.
  6. A total of 36,500 Irish full-time students are from Dublin, 18,800 are from Cork, and 10,100 are from Galway.  Between the three counties, this represents 42% of Irish full-time students.
  7. Every year, nearly 66,000 students graduate from a higher education institution, and of these nearly 20,000 receive a postgraduate award.
  8. For every new entrant studying a Health and Welfare programme, there are two studying a Science, Engineering or IT programme, and four studying Arts, Business or Social Sciences programme.
  9. One in every eight entrant to college is a mature student (over 23 years of age) while 5% of the student body are over 35.
  10. There are currently 146 students aged 70 or over! It’s never too late to learn.

Many thanks to the Programme Partner to The Undergraduate Awards, the Higher Educations Authority (HEA) for supplying the interesting facts.

Categories 2015/16

We are delighted to announce the 25 Categories for the 2015/2016 programme.

Every year, The Undergraduate Awards reviews and updates its 25 Categories. This is based on the submissions from the previous year, as we choose Categories that make the most sense for the largest amount of our submitters. The Undergraduate Awards is open to all undergraduate students who are in their penultimate year, final year or one year graduated.

The programme is run entirely through the English language and therefore all papers must be written in, or translated to, English. This includes the Language & Linguistics Category. The papers submitted to the Literature – Non-English Category must also be written in English.

If you are unsure about which Category to which you should submit your paper, we advise you to look to the name of the department in which your course is taught. You can also decide yourself what the main theme/topic of your paper is and decide which Category suits it best. Bear in mind the other papers against which it will be competing in that Category.

For further detail on the Categories, please visit this page on our website.

The Categories for 2015/16 are:

Art History, Music, Film & Theatre
Built Environment
Chemical & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Classical Studies & Archaeology
Computer Sciences
Earth & Environmental Sciences
Language & Linguistics (all through English)
Life Sciences
Literature – English
Literature – Non-English
Mathematics & Physics
Medical Science
Nursing & Midwifery
Politics & International Relations
Social Science – Anthropology & Cultural Studies
Social Science – Social Policy
Visual Arts & Design (Practical)

If you would like to submit your work to The Undergraduate Awards 2016 programme you can do so by clicking on the UA Form here. If you are not ready to submit work just yet, you can simply register your details on the UA Form and upload your paper later.

If you have any questions about the programme, just ask the team! Email:

Best of Luck to all entrants in this year’s programme!

2015 Programme Overview

The Undergraduate Awards (UA) 2015 programme has officially received 5117 submissions.  Submissions have come from students of all disciplines and from all over the world, making UA the largest academic awards programme in the world.


2015 is the year we surpassed 5,000 submissions to the programme. This year UA received 5,117 submissions in total from 255 universities in 40 different countries. Every year, more and more universities are becoming affiliated with the programme from all around the world. We are delighted with the huge number of submissions received as well as the programme enjoying its largest global reach to date.  This growth has been facilitated by our Affiliate Universities and University Partners especially.  The Undergraduate Awards is affiliated, and partnered with, the largest network of innovative institutions who inspire academic excellence and promote undergraduate opportunities. The Undergraduate Awards would like to commended the dedication of these institutions in promoting our programme to their students this year. We would also like to make a special mention to our 17 Campus Ambassadors in our Affiliate Universities who volunteered their time to promote on their campus.  We welcome them as part of the UA team throughout the year and we really appreciate their hard work.


As well as our 133 Affiliate Universities who took part in the 2015 programme,we also allow unaffiliated universities to take part. In our first year, 2009, nine universities took part across the island of Ireland. In 2015 the programme has grown to include submissions from students in 255 universities, colleges and institutions across the globe.


In the first year of our international programme, we received just 38 submissions from a limited number of universities in the UK, Canada and USA. Since then we have expanded across the globe. The 2015 programme saw students in 40 different countries – across Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania – submit their coursework to The 2015 Undergraduate Awards.Number of participating universities


The Undergraduate Awards is unique in that it is pan-discipline. The fact that we are ‘pan-discipline’ is extremely important to us as it means we provide recognition for students of almost every undergraduate course. With 25 different categories, it is open to undergraduates of all disciplines including students of humanities, business, sciences and the arts.

Congratulations to all the students who submitted their work to the programme this year. The shortlist of Highly Commended students will be announced in the first week of September 2015 and the Winning students will be announced shortly afterwards.  Here is some more detailed information on where our submissions came from.

ALIGNED Art Exhibition 2015 Overview

The Undergraduate Awards’ first international Art Exhibition is now closed. ALIGNED took place across 6 institutions in 4 countries for over 8 weeks. The Exhibition hosted 13 top undergraduate artists in their home institution and were all hosted centrally on All students were Highly Commended and Winners in The Undergraduate Awards 2015 programme.

The exhibition was an exciting opportunity for the winning entrants to display their work on an international level. Links to the artists’ websites can be found in their individual exhibitions within the online Aligned exhibition.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved in organising the exhibitions in the artists’ home institutions as well as the artists themselves for allowing us to exhibit their work in our international exhibition.

You can visit the online exhibition here:


ALIGNED: Final Launch in the Series – Ireland and Australia

This week The Undergraduate Awards (UA) international Art exhibition launched in the final three institutions in the series of ALIGNED. Over the course of eight weeks ALIGNED will exhibit and showcase the work of thirteen undergraduate artists from six different colleges from around the world. The exhibition is already up and running in Singapore and Scotland and Ireland. This week the exhibition was launched in Australian National University (ANU), Australia; Dublin Institute if Technology (DIT), Ireland and National College of Art & Design (NCAD), Ireland.  All exhibitions have now taken place in their home institutions and are being hosted centrally at

ALIGNED is an exciting, international art exhibition; the first of it’s kind hosted by The Undergraduate Awards.  The artists in this series are all Highly Commended and Winning entrants to The Undergraduate Awards 2014 programme.

The exhibition launched in ANU, Australia features the artist Jen Fullerton and her work ‘Grey Areas’.  Her practice is inspired by a desire to escape from information overload. “By developing work that provides limited information, I hope to liberate viewers from information overload, potentially giving them the freedom required to engage with the work in a purely sensory way.” Jen is a PhD cadidate at the School of Art in ANU, where she is expanding upon the theme of her award-winning work.  Jen was Highly Commended in The Undergraduate Awards 2014 Programme.  This exhibition will run until June 8th.

Grey Areas

Grey Areas


The exhibition also launched in DIT, Ireland where it will run until June 8th. DIT features the artist Aisling Reddin, Highly Commended in The Undergraduate Awards 2014 Programme  and her work ‘It could be worth something’.  Aisling’s work references the multiple definitions of value associated with the photographs”  Aisling is currently continuing her award-winning work, testing the claims on a much larger scope.


It Could Be Worth Something


Padraig Conway, Nicola Whelan, Martha Daly, Avril Corroon and Katie Watchorn are all exhibiting their work this week in the National College of Art & Design.  The 5 artists completed their undergraduate degree in NCAD. All were Highly Commended for their work and Katie’s work was chosen as the Overall Winning piece in The UA 2014 programme.  The exhibition will run until the 26th of June.


Padraig Conway is currently developing the portfolio of research material of megalithic sites and working with the National Monuments Service to produce an accurate representation of megalithic artwork.  Padraig is exhibiting his work Online and says of his work that Megalithic art was not static in form or meaning. “The enigmatic language of the ancient petroglyphs of Europe and especially Ireland are the basis for much of the explorations I undertake”.

a.'L1' Blind embossed print, Cairn T

Online a.’L1′ Blind embossed print, Cairn T


Nicola Whelan graduated from NCAD in Fine Art Sculpture. Here, Nicola is exhibiting her work ‘Buy and Sell*‘ where she “critiques the social, intellectual and historical contexts of artistic production; challenging how art is made, within and outside of art’s institutional framework, while exploring the role of artist as archivist, producer and curator”.

Buy and Sell* - auction lot number 9

Buy and Sell* – auction lot number 9


Martha Daly is exhibiting ‘Between a Rock’  Her works “allude to an organic dimension both in the process of making and in response to the use of inert industrial materials.”

Martha Daly 3

Between a Rock


Avril Corroon, graduated with First Class Honours in Fine Art from NCAD, has since been awarded a number of residencies in Dublin and is part of a collaborative research project of six artists based in Dublin. Her awarded piece, ‘Out the Hole, Around the Tree and Back in Again’  refers to her “Pushing the boundaries of facilitation within the institution. I highlight external political factors and regulations, which restrain the art school’s ability to facilitate me”.

Out the hole, around the tree and back in again, video still

Out the hole, around the tree and back in again, video still


Katie Watchorn, the Overall Winner in the Visual Arts Category of The Undergraduate Awards 2014 Programme Exhibits her winning piece ‘A Softness Preserves You’ .  The work deals with Irish rural farming and she says of her work “I am concerned with bringing utilitarian agrarian materials into a formal environment and the combination of organic substances with rough agriculturally-based raw materials”.  Katie graduated with a First Class Honours in Fine Art Painting. She is currently living and working between Carlow and Dublin and has received an emerging artist bursary from Carlow County Council.


A Softness Preserves You


You can see the full exhibition on our website at ALIGNED.

If you would like to take part in next year’s international art exhibition, you can submit your work to the Visual Arts & Design category in The Undergraduate Awards  2015 programme.  You can fill out this form and submit your work by the deadline: June 15th 2015.

For more information on submitting your work to our Visual Arts & Design category, you can visit our website here. You can fill out the form and submit your work by the deadline: June 15th 2015 23:59 (GMT +1). 

email us with any questions on

Good Luck!

ALIGNED: Art Connecting Students Around The World


As a recent Northwestern graduate, it wasn’t long ago that I spent extensive hours in the library and painting studios to fulfill my Art History major requirements. Working in the humanities is often a solitary task; the time spent studying and preparing your work usually far outweighs time spent sharing ideas and projects. In my experience, this is especially true as an undergraduate, when students have limited access to the professional worlds of their professors and mentors. I remember feeling excited, but also slightly intimidated, by the immense amount of “real world” information and ongoing discourse I felt I needed to learn before I could lend my own voice to the discussion. While that feeling still lingers, there are exciting new ways for students to overcome it.

ALIGNED is a global exhibition providing artistic platforms specifically for undergraduate students. Hosted on six university campuses across four countries–Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and Singapore–the exhibit highlights student projects recognized by the international Undergraduate Awards program. The first exhibition of its kind, ALIGNED provides an exhibiting opportunity for 13 students in their home countries and unites their work in an online gallery, which lets us learn more about some of the world’s leading young artists from the comfort of our laptops. Below are just a few of these impressive projects; I selected four based upon my interests in social justice and information sharing, but you should see the complete gallery for yourself!



AUSTRALIA: Jen Fullerton, “Grey Areas,” Australian National University

To combat the immense amount of information that inundates us digitally, academically and socially each day, Fullerton created abstract sculptures that intentionally lack contextual information. Her work activates viewers to engage in sensory ways, taking a break from our daily routines of information overload.



IRELAND: Elizabeth Burgess, “The Evolution of The News Media,” Limerick Institute of Technology

Burgess grapples with information overload in an entirely different way. Questioning the accuracy of modern day media, especially with social media’s influence on journalism, she created a newspaper covering the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the Sichuan earthquake in China, and the Arab Spring. The paper begins with rather traditional coverage before becoming interrupted by Tweets, fragmented information and pixelated images.



SCOTLAND: Mandi Halonen, “Everything About Quarter Life Crisis Survival,” University of Dundee
Unemployed? Anxious? In the midst of an existential crisis? No matter how you’re feeling as finals week approaches, this guide has you covered. Its sleek design outlines the symptoms and phases of a quarter life crisis and provides a map with various tips and goals: use less Facebook, go to the gym, dance the night away, seek a good money/passion balance, and so on. As you flip through and identify with a few concerns (or a lot of them), it’s reassuring to know our friends across the pond have similar experiences.


SINGAPORE: Wilfred Lim, “New House,” Nanyang Technological University

“New House” responds to the gradual destruction of Lim’s hometown, a small fishing village in Pengerang, Southern Malaysia. In 2011, construction began to create an oil refinery in the area, which will displace tens of thousands of residents and deprive them of their livelihoods as farmers and fishermen. His elegant photos explore human habitat and the importance of place. I was particularly struck by this project because it introduced me to an issue I hadn’t heard of previously, which encapsulates the crux of ALIGNED as a place for artistic and intellectual global exchange.

I look forward to seeing future renditions of this annual art exhibition: the Undergraduate Awards is a young, rapidly-expanding organization and more is sure to come. In my view, sending the students’ artwork to different universities would increase the exhibit’s global nature while still maintaining a unique experience in each venue. How would you further push the boundaries of connectedness and exchange?

Whether or not you’re an artist, you can become a part of this international network of undergraduates by submitting to the 2015 Undergraduate Awards before the June 16 deadline. All you have to do is submit your portfolio or final papers you’ve written for class. Learn more on their website, fill out the UA Form here , and keep an eye out for next year’s exhibition of impressive work by our peers from around the world.


By Claire Dillon


Claire Dillon is a recent Northwestern graduate and the Director of Education and Outreach for the Chicago non-profit ART WORKS Projects. She also serves the editorial boards of Art Journal and Vexillum: The Undergraduate Journal of Classical and Medieval Studies.

ART WORKS Projects Website



This post was originally published here by the Northwestern Art Review – Northwestern’s Visual Culture Club on May 27th 2015.

The Prize

The Undergraduate Awards 2015 Prize

The Undergraduate Awards (UA) is the world’s only prestigious and international academic awards programme, which is wholly pan-discipline. It aims to celebrate and support the world’s brightest and most innovative undergraduate students by recognising their best coursework and projects. The UA is a unique initiative that identifies the world’s top undergraduate research; aims to identify leading creative thinkers through their undergraduate coursework and awards across 25 different categories. Students are chosen for their innovative approach to their subject area – creating world-class research to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges.

As well as coming to Dublin for an all-expenses-paid trip to receive their medal, UA provides top performing students with the support, network and opportunities they require to raise their profiles and further their career paths.

The Recognition

Becoming a winner, or even highly commended, means your research is the top of your field. The Undergraduate Awards identifies and recognises the most creative and nuanced arguments and ideas coming out at undergraduate level internationally. The overall winners are published in our annual academic journal. The journals are sent to every university library and is often requested by academics as a directory of the finest undergraduates from every discipline. You can see previous journals here. This recognition at the undergraduate level can be catalytic when pursuing further studies, or your chosen career.

The Journal

The Network

Recipients of the Undergraduate Awards are members of an eclectic mix of some of the world’s most creative thinkers and problem-solvers. Being part of the alumni of UA winners gives you unparalleled access to world class students from across the globe. Check out our existing alumni here.

The Summit

Winners are brought to the UA Global Summit in Dublin, Ireland. This is a four-day networking and brainstorming event which brings together the brightest and most innovative students in the world.

The best thing about the UA Global Summit was the opportunity to meet the other winners and highly commended students from all over the world, and across all the disciplines. It was a really challenging and empowering three days!” (Highly Commended Attendee, 2012)

Each year, the winners and highly commended entrants are invited to Dublin to attend the UA Global Summit – a “Davos for students”. The top students from around the world take part in discussions, workshops and events all geared towards enhancing their personal development, encouraging responsible leadership and equipping them with the knowledge they need to further themselves, their ideas and research.

Perfect – three of the best days of my life so far. Gave me clarity to think through a few hard decisions about what direction I want my career to take and has affirmed some aspirations of mine.” (Winner, 2013)

The Summit is exclusive in that only winners and highly commended students can attend. The Summit is designed to celebrate these outstanding students from across the world, and to inspire them with speakers assembled from a diverse range of backgrounds; as diverse as the category winners themselves. The four-day conference reaches its pinnacle at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony where each of the UA winners are presented with their Gold Medal, for their leading-edge research and course work.

To become a part of this growing network of outstanding students you can submit your work to The Undergraduate Awards by clicking on the UA Form here. If you are not ready to submit your work just yet, you can simply save your details on the UA Form and upload your paper at a later date. #awardyourwork

ALIGNED Exhibition in Limerick School of Art and Design

Yesterday ALIGNED, The Undergraduate Awards (UA) international Art exhibition, launched in Limerick Institute of Technology’s school of Art & Design (LSAD). Over the next eight weeks ALIGNED will exhibit and showcase the work of thirteen undergraduate artists from six different colleges from around the world. The exhibition is already up and running in Singapore and Scotland.

ALIGNED is an exciting, international art exhibition; the first of it’s kind hosted by The Undergraduate Awards.  The artists in this series are all Highly Commended and Winning entrants to The Undergraduate Awards 2014 programme.

The first exhibition in the ALIGNED series was launched in Nanyang Institute of Technology (NTU) Singapore, exhibiting the work of Wilfred Lim and Kho Ruiwei. Wilfred was the programme winner of The Undergraduate Awards 2014 programme for his work New House and Kho was highly commended for her work Constitutional Nightmare, 2014. 

New House showcased in NTU, Singapore

New House showcased in NTU, Singapore


Constitutional Nightmare, 2014 showcased in NTU, Singapore

Constitutional Nightmare, 2014 showcased in NTU, Singapore

Each exhibition will take place in the artist’s home institution from now until the end of June 2015. The Exhibition is taking place in four different countries and has already opened in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore and the University of Dundee, Scotland.  Other Institutions taking part include Australian National University, Canberra; Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and National College of Art and Design (NCAD) which are both in Ireland. All exhibitions are hosted centrally in the ALIGNED exhibition at

Lorraine Cleary, Emily Robards and Elizabeth Burgess are all exhibiting their work this week in the Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD).  The 3 artists completed their undergraduate degree in Limerick and were all Highly Commended for their work in The UA 2014 programme. The exhibition will run until the 20th of May.

Lorraine Cleary, currently studying for a Masters in Interactive Media at the University of Limerick, is exhibiting her work Mise en Scene, “an investigation into the boundaries that exist between spatial entities. Involving an exploration of these entities in their ambiguous states, the in-between, on the threshold of transformation.”

Webcam Footage Projected

Webcam Footage Projected showcased in LSAD, Ireland

Emily Robards, an artist living and working in Co. Limerick, is also showcasing her work A Susurrus,… “meaning a whisper or a murmur…links the spiritual, human and animal worlds together with an underlining narrative of innocence and the uncanny.”



A Sussurrus,.. showcased in LSAD, Ireland

A Sussurrus,.. showcased in LSAD, Ireland

A Sussurrus,.. showcased in LSAD, Ireland


Elizabeth Burgess, a junior designer working in Dublin, showcasing her work The Evolution of The News Media “…we receive the news fast, all at once and it’s difficult to distinguish what is truth, fiction or just idol gossip. It asks the question: does social media democratize the news or defile it by supporting news stories with questionable sources?”


The Evolution of The News Media showcased in LSAD, Ireland


Last week ALIGNED launched in the University of Dundee, exhibiting the work of Highly Commended entrant Mandi Halonen.  Her piece Everything About Quarter Life Crisis Survival is a book that “explains everything you need to know to survive the quarter life crisis. The book has three elements: the guide, the map of life, and an emergency pack.” This exhibition will run until the 31st of May. 


Everything About Quarter Life Crisis Survival showcasing in the University of Dundee

You can see the full exhibition on our website at ALIGNED.

If you would like to take part in next year’s international art exhibition, you can submit your work to The Undergraduate Awards 2015 programme.  You can fill out this form and submit your work by the deadline: June 15th 2015.

For more information on submitting your work, check out the submission criteria or email us with any questions on Good Luck!

Would John Williams’ Stoner survive today?

A tale of quiet devotion to scholarship seems all the more poignant given the relentless nature of today’s academy, says Rachel Carey.

Recently, almost 50 years after its original publication – but only two years after it became a best-seller – I got around to reading John Williams’ Stoner.

For those of you who are not familiar with the book, which was hailed by The New Yorker as “the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of”, it is a beautifully written story about one man’s perfectly ordinary life. Its protagonist, William Stoner, is an assistant professor at the University of Missouri and, through his perspective, we are offered (among many other things) a vivid portrayal of academic life. In his first year as an undergraduate, Stoner becomes enthralled by the study of English literature, having discovered the “epiphany of knowing something through words that could not be put in words”. The passion he feels for his chosen subject drives him towards a patient and lifelong dedication to its study. He becomes neither an extraordinary teacher nor a celebrated scholar, but we become invested in him and his life, and the world in which he works.

Just as the novel emphasises the importance of the character’s journey, William Stoner’s love of academia is rooted in the pursuit of knowledge rather than its end product. At an early stage in his career, Stoner is reminded by his adviser to “remember what you are and what you have chosen to become, and the significance of what you are doing”. Despite the novel being set in the first half of the 20th century, this piece of advice struck me as relevant – albeit increasingly difficult to follow.

Today, the unfortunate truth is that your “significance” as an academic, your scholarly worth, is judged almost solely on your output. You might sign up for a life in academia believing in, and enjoying, the scientific process itself, but succeeding in it requires more than belief. It requires, above all else, high impact publications and grants. The process of finding answers and seeking truths is almost entirely eclipsed by the urgency with which we need to report those answers, write up those truths and, of course, secure more funding.

Research commissioned in 2013 by the University and College Union showed that mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics. This might stem in part from the psychological make-up of those who work in academia, a world of overachievers and perfectionists; we often tend to push ourselves further, and harder, than we should. But there’s more to it than that.

There is certainly something in the nature of the work that makes self-doubt and anxiety inevitable. Working in academia has often made me feel as though I’m wandering through a forest. You start out wanting to explore new avenues and discover unknown territories. The trails are imprecise and indistinct, and you’re never quite sure that you’re going the right way – you’re not actually entirely sure you’re not going around in circles. You become acutely aware of the limits of your knowledge. You are reminded of it every time you read an old study you haven’t seen before, or hear for the first time about new, cutting-edge research. We often joke that we all have “imposter syndrome”, but honestly, it’s hard to shake the doubt when you are so regularly reminded of all that you don’t yet know – even, and perhaps especially, about your chosen area.

I think, though, it is the pressure that comes with a “publish or perish” environment, and the type of mindset it encourages, that has the most potential for harming our mental health. Academia is a world that breeds relentless self-comparison and self-assessment, where we feel the need to strive for impossible standards, to prove (as much to ourselves as to everyone else) that we are capable, that we can cope with the pressure, that we can succeed. We emerge from our PhDs knowing that there are more people than jobs and feeling like small fish in a rapidly expanding pond. When we try to keep up the pace by taking on more work, when we work longer hours, when we sit at our computers late into a Sunday evening, thinking “this is what I’ve signed up for”, we are accepting destructive and dangerous thought patterns that are becoming ingrained in academia. By accepting them, we normalise them, we trivialise them; we perpetuate them.

When, every so often, you emerge into a clearing in the academic forest, any sense of relief manifests itself very cautiously. There’s always another deadline round the corner, so we are reluctant to pause and savour these moments; the instinct is to run straight ahead. When we are only as good as our highest-impact publication, we cannot afford to get complacent.

Williams’ Stoner is an unassuming, unpretentious, unexceptional man. Yet, when I finished this book, I found myself admiring and envying him. I envied his raw appreciation for his chosen subject, and the fulfilment he’d found in committing his life to its study, regardless of where that study took him. It would be nice to say we should all take a leaf out of Stoner’s book, except that I don’t believe that would get us very far in 2015. Academia has become a world where one’s love for research is secondary to the extent to which one can yield output from it. In this context, it’s hard to maintain belief in ourselves and to “remember the significance” of what we are doing. When we are lost in the forest, the bigger picture can be frustratingly elusive.

I wonder how different life for Stoner would have been, if he had worked in academia today. Would he have carried on until his retirement with the same love for the university, the same belief in the value of academic life? Or, as is my suspicion, would the university have taken one look at his publications, told him that he should have applied for more grants, and kicked him out the door?

Rachel Carey is a research associate in psychology and behaviour change at University College London. These are her personal views.

This article was first published here in Times Higher Education Magazine on 30th April 2015. Visit Times Higher Education Website for news and events on  here.



Aligned | The Undergraduate Awards Art Exhibition 2015

An exhibition of our 2014 Winning and Highly Commended entrants in the Visual Arts category

Aligned is the first art exhibition of its kind: a series of exhibitions taking place over the course of 7 weeks, from May 8th – June 28th, across six higher education institutions of art and design in four countries: Ireland, Scotland, Singapore and Australia. The institutions are displaying the work of their past and current students who were either winners or highly commended entrants to the The Undergraduate Awards.

The exhibition will launch on each campus starting from May 8th, but it will also be hosted virtually on where an international audience can view all the works of art and information on the artists themselves.

aligned globe

Executive Director of The Undergraduate Awards, Louise Hodgson says “This is the first international art exhibition of its kind – being hosted virtually as well as on campuses around the world, but I have to admit: I’m mostly excited about displaying so many emerging Irish artists to a global audience. This is a huge opportunity for them.”

The work from the Overall Winner of the Visual Arts category: Katie Watchorn, has been published in The Undergraduate Journal and can be viewed here.  Her installation ‘A Softness Preserved You’ deals with traditional Irish farming practices. “I am interested in the care and maternal instincts of the farm environment, and the materials used to portray this nurturing towards non-humans,” commented Katie.

The 13 artists taking part in this exciting global event are:

  • Elizabeth Burgess, Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Lorraine Cleary, Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Padraig Conway, National College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Avril Corroon, National College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Martha Daly, National College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Jen Fullerton, Australian National University, Australia
  • Mandi Halonen, University of Dundee, Scotland
  • Wilfred Lim, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Aisling Reddin, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
  • Emily Robards, Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Kho Ruiwei, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Katie Watchorn, National College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Nicola Whelan, National College of Art and Design, Ireland


Aligned is the first art exhibition of its kind, celebrating top undergraduate artistry and design on a global platform. The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s only international, pan-disciplinary academic awards programme. Six exciting exhibitions taking place in universities across four countries; the work will be hosted centrally through and will be promoted across all social media.

The six participating universities are;

  • Australian National University, Australia
  • Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
  • Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • National College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • University of Dundee, Scotland


To submit your artwork and designs to The Undergraduate Awards 2015 programme, please fill out the UA Form before our deadline June 16th. 

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