Archive for August, 2008

Value of gaining a degree plummets

Posted in teaching with tags , , , on 31 August 2008 by Steve

“ One-third of graduates are receiving no financial benefit from their degree as young people drawn in by Labour’s mass expansion of universities see the value of studying decline for the first time. A study has identified a widening gulf between the highest-paid graduates, whose degrees have brought them soaring returns over the past decade, and those at the lower end. Among male graduates, 33.2% end up in nongraduate jobs five years after leaving university, from 21.7% in 1992. The proportions for women are similar. These graduates now earn 40% less than if they had found a job where a degree was necessary. In 2001, before the market was swamped by university-educated applicants, those who had to settle for lower-paid jobs were only 32% worse off. The worst affected were from the former polytechnics and other new universities which had been encouraged to expand under Labour …” (more)

[Jack Grimston, Sunday Times, 31 August]


DCU is hailed as decades ahead of rest

Posted in Life with tags , on 31 August 2008 by Steve

“ Dublin City University has been listed among the best “campuses of the future” by internationally renowned magazine Newsweek. The north Dublin education facility, which includes The Helix theatre, is listed alongside some of the most prestigious colleges in the world, including Arizona State University, Stanford and MIT …” (more)

[Kevin Doyle, Herald, 29 August]

UCC and DCU fail to publish accounts since 2002

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , on 31 August 2008 by Steve

“Two universities seeking the return of third-level fees, Dublin City University and University College Cork, have not published accounts since 2002 due to problems meeting financial transparency rules. The revelation comes as it emerged that the government’s financial watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), has banned the signing-off of university accounts until it finishes investigating unauthorised payments to managers at some colleges. This will halt the publication of accounts for all seven universities as the C&AG must approve them first … ” (more)

[Ken Griffin, Tribune, 31 August]

University fees issue primarily about control

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 29 August 2008 by Steve

“For all the talk about reforming the public sector, we can now see that there was no clear conception of what reform really meant. No vision of “reformed” public services was provided to guide strategic thinking and implementation, to motivate employees and to attract public support for the project. The regular demands for “public sector reform” usually lack concreteness …” (more)

[Connell Fanning, Irish Times, 29 August]

Fear of fees prompts rapid take-up of college places

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 29 August 2008 by Steve

“Record numbers of CAO applicants are rushing to accept college places – amid concerns that third-level fees could return. CAO figures published today show the number opting to defer a college place in order to take a gap year is at historically low levels. Universities say the rush to accept a college place is being driven by what one senior figure calls an increasing “hysteria” that fees of at least €5,000 per year could return …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 29 August]

Labour Court tells Department of Education to pay compensation to ex-employees of St Catherine’s College of Education

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 28 August 2008 by Steve

“The Labour Court has recommended that the Department of Education should pay €60,000.00 to four members of the Irish Federation of University Teachers who were given early retirement when St Catherine’s College of Education for Home Economics, Dublin closed in August 2007 …” (more)

[IFUT, 28 August]

Head of university calls for 18-month review of fees to be completed sooner

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , on 28 August 2008 by Steve

“The 18-month review of the university fees issue is not business-like and should be reduced, according to the chancellor of the University of Limerick. Peter Malone also called for continuing investment in construction studies despite the economic downturn because of the danger of losing skills in the area …” (more)

[Tom O’Brien, Irish Times, 28 August]

A lighter weight of paper?

Posted in teaching with tags , on 28 August 2008 by Steve

“The dilution of PhD standards damages the status of every aspect of UK academe. Recently there has been unusual noise and anxiety about the classification and the quality of our undergraduate degrees. If silence is any guide, there is no such concern about our PhDs, which are, after all, the entrance qualification to the academic clerisy, and are still spoken of with reverence as something beyond ordinary human accomplishment. Unfortunately the reality is otherwise. Just as bachelors degrees have become less demanding, so PhDs have become something quite different from what they were …” (more)

[Kevin Sharpe, Times Higher Education, 28 August]

Cleaning up the act

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 28 August 2008 by Steve

“Academic fraud in Britain is endemic, but universities continue to argue the case for self-regulation. America and Denmark have tougher regimes in place, so should we follow their lead? There is widespread scepticism about Britain’s system for dealing with research misconduct in which universities carry out their own investigations. The UK Panel for Research Integrity (UKPRI) issues guidelines on ethics and best practice rather than taking enforcement action. The problem, it is generally agreed, is that the current system is inadequate to cope not only with the sheer quantity of output but also with the close relationship between universities and industry …” (more)

[Tariq Tahir, Times Higher Education, 28 August]

Keep peer review at REF core, chairs warn

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 28 August 2008 by Steve

“Senior RAE figures offer frank perspectives on the future of research funding. Peer-to-peer judgment must be maintained as a core feature of the system being designed to allocate more than a billion pounds a year in research funding, some of the sector’s most senior research figures have warned in a series of interviews with Times Higher Education. Frank personal perspectives on the future of research funding have been given by 11 chairs of the subpanels that are assessing the quality of UK research for the 2008 research assessment exercise …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 28 August]

Battle of the rankings

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 27 August 2008 by Steve

“American universities have begun a rebellion against academic league tables. British universities should join them. Annually since 1983, US News & World Report has published a table of rankings – we would call them league tables – of American universities and degree-granting colleges. As late August approaches, university presidents, who will have been told in advance of the positions of their institutions in the tables, prepare press statements pointing out how well they have done, if not overall then – hopefully – at least in some sub-category. This good news will appear on their websites, and will be exploited in promotional and recruiting literature. But this year the really good news is not that Harvard has come top, displacing last year’s No1 (Princeton), or that “HYP” – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – almost invariably occupy the top three places. No. The really good news is that more US-based higher-education institutions than ever before have refused to take any part whatsoever in the so-called “reputational” survey, the results of which comprise the single greatest component of the formula used by US News in compiling its rankings tables …” (more)

[Geoffrey Alderman. Guardian, 27 August]

Dr. O Nuallain – In his own words

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 27 August 2008 by Steve

“In June 2002, I was unfairly dismissed from DCU. I refused to enter yet another set of double binds – an utterly illegal disciplinary procedure initiated in the middle of a grievance procedure. SIPTU supported me in this, and I was summoned to a long meeting in July 2002 with the then branch secretary. Let us recall that our contracts at DCU require us to remain benefit members of SIPTU (that is, not just be members, but pay them about €250/year). This means, for example, that we must picket if there is an approved strike and we are asked to picket by SIPTU, or else we cease to be employees of DCU. Indeed, it means that we cannot comply with a disciplinary procedure that has not been approved by SIPTU, even if we wish to do so …” (more)

[Academic Tenure in Ireland, 27 August]

Universities set to improve pensions

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 27 August 2008 by Steve

“Universities are expected to take advantage of Government plans to acquire their pension fund assets to significantly improve the pension position of some staff. The Government has indicated it intends to take the assets of a large number of independently funded semi-State pension schemes – including those at most of the universities – into the exchequer. This will provide the Government with a windfall of up to €4 billion, according to sources within the pension industry …” (more)

[Dominic Coyle, Irish Times, 27 August]

Students with part-time jobs struggling to make ends meet as cost of college soars

Posted in teaching with tags , on 27 August 2008 by Steve

“Two-thirds of college students work part time, but still find it difficult to make ends meet. The cost of going to college has recently been estimated at €8,403 for a student living away from home, and €3,861 for a student living at home …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 26 August]

Ratting on the rankings

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 26 August 2008 by Steve

“The central criticism of whole-of-institution rankings relates to the methodology that addresses quality in a superficial way but projects a complex image. Most rankings rely on two types of data: information from institutions that may not be validated and data obtained from opinion polls in the name of “expert opinion”. With both components providing shaky foundations, the use of complex formulas with weights and indicators helps to project a pseudo-scientific image to outcomes that may be statistically irrelevant …” (more)

[David Woodhouse, Australian Higher Education, 27 August]

Tenure and the Universities Act, 1997 – Before and After

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 26 August 2008 by Steve

“The issue of academic tenure was recently adjudicated upon by the High Court in Ireland. In the judgement, the Court addressed the ramifications of the Universities Act, 1997 on academic tenure for all academics employed in Irish Universities post 1997 …” (more)

[Academic Tenure In Ireland, 18 August]

The UK Experience and Tenure – Is this Where Ireland is Heading?

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 26 August 2008 by Steve

“In 1988, the Conservative administration headed by Margaret Thatcher abolished tenure in British universities, empowering them to dismiss academic staff for reasons of financial exigency or “good cause.” The original bill that did away with tenure contained no reference to academic freedom. Thanks to the House of Lords, however, the government accepted an amendment designed to “ensure that academic staff have freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs and privileges.” The lords also forced the government to remove a clause permitting universities to replace “expensive” academics with “cheaper” ones …” (more)

[Academic Tenure In Ireland, 15 August]

University Heads have ‘Lost the Spirit’ of a University

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 26 August 2008 by Steve

“The proposal to look at the introduction of University tuition fees by newly appointed Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe continues to spark debate. Today, the President of the Labour Party, Michael D Higgins, TD, said the issue went beyond fees but was “a democratic issue”. “Anyone who has any sense of the real world knows that more and more it is required as a basic level that you have a third level education. It is anti-democratic and anti-republican to suggest that access to it would be restricted to those who could afford to pay for it.” …” (more)

[Academic Tenure In Ireland, 13 August]

Round One acceptance cut-off point here

Posted in Fees and access with tags on 26 August 2008 by Steve

“Although the deadline for acceptance of CAO’s round one is 5.15pm today, the vast majority of those intending to accept their round one offers have done so by now. Round Two offers will be posted on Thursday and cut-off points will be published in CAO’s website by 6am on Friday morning. Meanwhile, almost 220 courses were advertising some available/vacant places on CAO’s list yesterday …” (more)

[Mary O’Donnell, Independent, 26 August]

University architecture

Posted in Life with tags , on 26 August 2008 by Steve

“Just after I took up my post as President of DCU, I invited an old friend to visit me there. I collected him from the airport one evening and drove him back to the university. We approached the campus along Collins Avenue (for those who know Dublin and DCU); it was 9 pm in the autumn, and it was dark. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘this looks like an oil refinery’. And maybe it did, a little. At the time we were building several new buildings along the road, and the scaffolding and cranes were lit up, and it did indeed look very industrial. Some eight years later it is no longer like that …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 26 August]