Archive for 20 September 2008

O’Keeffe embarrassed over fee revenue forecast out by €400m

Posted in Fees and access with tags on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has admitted his embarrassment in a growing controversy about the potential revenue from the return of third-level fees. Last weekend, the department released the results of a report prepared by a UCC economist, Dr Noel Woods, which found the return of fees could generate up to €530 million for the exchequer in one year. It later emerged that Dr Woods had miscalculated – the maximum yield, using his own figures, was actually €130 million …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 19 September]

Botched fee figures leave Batt red-faced

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe yesterday admitted he was “embarrassed” by the college fee income fiasco. The Irish Independent revealed on Wednesday that economist Dr Noel Woods got his figures wrong when he drew up projections for the minister on how much would be generated by the re-introduction of third-level fees …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 19 September]

Cryptic feedback baffles students

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Those at elite institutions find lecturers’ notes less useful than those at post-92s. Nearly a third of students think that the feedback they get from their lecturers does not tell them how to improve their work, a study has found. Many students surveyed said they were confused and frustrated by “cryptic” feedback that posed questions but did not tell them where they had gone wrong in their work. The study for the National Union of Students found that students at post-1992 institutions tended to be happier with the quality of their feedback because they felt it was tailored to them and related better to the marking criteria …” (more)

[Chloe Stothart, Times Higher Education, 18 September]

College boss furious over ‘idiotic’ plan for institute’s future

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“The head of a third-level college has reacted furiously to threats to the institution’s future. No decisions have yet been made about what will happen to the Tipperary Institute (TI), but it will be considered in the context of the forthcoming strategy review for all of higher education. But the Irish Independent has learned that various options will be looked at …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 18 September]

Hello Freshers: welcoming new students to university

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Universities seems to have got an awful lot better at induction in recent years. Judging though by the Cornell University New Students site, UK institutions have quite a long way yet to go. Although the volume of support material does look a bit overwhelming, it is well organised and accessible. From a UK perspective, the sheer scale of the student support infrastructure is awesome. There is much here we can learn from …” (more)

[Registrarism, 17 September]

The best universities are private?

Posted in teaching with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“An article in the Guardian newspaper last week reported that the only private university in the UK, Buckingham University, was the highest rated in the National Student Survey. Buckingham University also happens to be the smallest university in the UK, with under 1000 students. The National Student Survey has been plagued with controversy ever since it was introduced in 2005. It asks fairly general questions about student satisfaction with teaching, assessment and support …” (more)

[Kelly Coate, Summa cum Laude, 16 September]

IFUT fights redundancy threat to university staff

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“IFUT has called on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions not to finalise any new pay deal until threats of redundancy against university staff are resolved. The call follows a decision by IFUT members in NUI Maynooth to ballot for industrial action, following the decision of the college to issue a compulsory redundancy notice to a permanent staff member. The college move is a clear breach of all prevailing norms and understandings that preclude compulsory redundancies in the Public Sector, IFUT General Secretary, Mike Jennings, says …” (more)

[IFUT Blog, 16 September]

UDI – Universities’ Declaration of Independence?

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Given the ongoing debate over the possible reintroduction of student payment of third level fees, and the dangers that lurk there for the universities, a rather unnerving thought occurs to me. It may be that the best universities in Europe are not yet private universities, but Irish universities seeking the freedom to set their own fees might decide to “de-nationalise” and “go private” by means of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. My point is not that Universities should declare independence from government on the matter of fees, but that they should declare independence from government in all matters. There would be steep legal and regulatory obstacles to surmount, but assuming that this can be done, it would give any universities that did so complete freedom of action, not only in the realm of fees, but across the board …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 16 September]

Too much research?

Posted in research with tags , , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“One of the curious aspects of the statement made yesterday by the Minister for Education, at least as reported on RTE, was that he wants ‘a situation where money is targeted at the undergraduate and not other areas like research and development’. Implicit (or in fact, quite explicit) in this statement is the suggestion that too much money has been invested in research. And if he meant to say that, he is calling into question some of the key planks of the government’s policy on industry and R&D over the past two or three years. He would seem to be suggesting, on the face of it, that the Strategy on Science, Technology and Innovation is a mistake …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 16 September]

The Minister explains further …

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Last month, as we have discussed here several times, Mr Batt O’Keeffe, Minister for Education and Science, put the issue of tuition fees back on the agenda. Subsequently he indicated that he was personally in favour of reintroducing them, albeit for wealthy students (or students from wealthy families) only. I have indicated before that I applaud the Minister’s willingness to engage with this agenda, which is not politically easy; he has shown some courage …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 16 September]

High Noon for college heads

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Next week’s meeting between university presidents and Batt O’Keeffe is shaping up to be a fascinating affair. O’Keeffe has delighted the college heads by re-opening the debate on fees. And even his audit of spending is being welcomed. One university president even sees it as an opportunity to show the “wonderful value ” which the colleges are delivering. The bottom line for the presidents? That the budgetary crisis is being addressed – and some plan for more revenue is in place. There is clearly a black hole in the finances of most universities …” (more)

[Irish Times, 16 September]

O’Keeffe: why should the rich go free?

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“In his first extensive interview, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has no regrets about raising the fees issues. His priority is to widen third-level access and build up strong supports for the disadvantaged.” (more)

 

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 16 September] 

Merger of third-level courses signalled

Posted in teaching with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe wants third-level colleges to see if they can cut costs by merging similar courses which attract small numbers of students. He told the Irish Independent there was a “great case for rationalisation” of courses across third-level colleges. The Department of Education’s forthcoming strategy review will also look at the “diversity” of courses across the sector, which is getting €2bn a year from the taxpayer … “ (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 16 September]

Undergrad students a priority – O’Keeffe

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 20 September 2008 by Steve

“Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has said Government spending in third-level education has increased by a third in three years. Mr O’Keeffe said he cannot understand how the third-level sector could claim it was underfunded. Speaking after meeting students demonstrating against the return of third-level fees outside the Fianna Fáil conference in Galway, Mr O’Keeffe said he wants to see a sector where undergraduate students were the priority …” (more)

[RTĖ News, 15 September]