Archive for January, 2009

Call for mobilisations in European universities March 18-20

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 31 January 2009 by Steve

“We do not want any ‘market of knowledge’! Call for a European mobilisation against the Lisbon strategy in higher education and research. The next spring summit of the heads of state and governments of the European union will take place on March 19th‐20th, 2009. One of its priorities will be the assessment of the Lisbon strategy initiated in 2000, which frames the policies currently engaged in the Member States so as to ‘modernise’ the national research and education system (primary, secondary and higher education, lifelong learning). The declared ambition of a ‘knowledge‐based society’ should be encouraged, as far as it consists in a collective ambition to promote education and research as public goods, a guarantee of democratisation of knowledge, and an opportunity for citizens to possibly criticise scientific and technical choices. But the current orientation is different …” (more)

[Counter-Cartographies Collective, 31 January]


University’s ‘future in doubt’

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 31 January 2009 by Steve

“MPs have warned that the future of a university is in doubt as it faces the repayment of over £50m, after an audit found ‘incorrect data’ on students. London Metropolitan University has admitted that this puts more than 300 jobs at risk – and unions are planning a campus protest on Wednesday. The funding council says the deduction of income follows an audit showing inaccurate reporting of drop-out rates. A university leader says there could be further cases of such ‘gotcha audits’ …” (more)

[BBC News, 28 January]

Higher education? Aim lower

Posted in teaching with tags , on 31 January 2009 by Steve

“I had a great time in university. I had small classes with enthusiastic professors who pushed us hard. I took demanding survey courses in Western Civ, before such things fell out of fashion. I even thought I might have a future as a professor. By the time I graduated, the culture had shifted radically … Forty years ago, a university education was still largely confined to the (relatively) privileged elites. Today, every kid who’s smarter than a turnip is expected to go. Universities are vast credentialing factories whose main function is to certify that their graduates are intelligent enough to hold down jobs in the knowledge economy …” (more)

[Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail, 31 January]

Naked Trinity students spark chaos

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 31 January 2009 by Steve

“Trinity College has launched an investigation into an incident in which students went naked on the Luas and on the streets of the city centre for a ‘fundraising drive’. The Junior Dean’s office is now looking at an event called ‘Gumball Challenge’ and will be talking to the parties involved. Trinity students caused uproar across Dublin city centre as naked pranksters were seen swarming the streets and the Luas when a society fundraiser got seriously out of hand. Members of DU Players, the drama society in Trinity, organised a ‘Gumball Challenge’ in order to raise funds for one of their upcoming musicals. Participants were handed a list of 50 challenges that included dares such as ‘give Molly Malone a lapdance’, ‘drink your own p***’, ‘eat a euro coin’ and ‘get a tattoo’ …” (more)

[Herald, 31 January]

Students have been sold a lie

Posted in teaching with tags , on 31 January 2009 by Steve

“When a friend enrolled as a mature student last year, I was curious to hear what university life was like these days. It was quite a surprise when he reported back that students were taking personal calls on their mobile phones during lectures. Apparently it comes as a shock to the students when lecturers ask them to hang up. In a recent seminar a girl sat with her iPod headphones on, and was astonished when the tutor asked her to remove them. There were no more than a dozen or so other students in the class, and one of them was trying to give a presentation. ‘But I like listening to music!’ the girl objected, genuinely affronted by the intrusion, as though she were on a bus …” (more

[Decca Aitkenhead, Guardian, 31 January]

Colleges may put on courses for the unemployed

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 31 January 2009 by Steve

“In a new government action plan, third-level colleges will be asked to provide places and a broad range of courses for the growing number of unemployed, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said yesterday. A Cabinet subcommittee will report shortly to Taoiseach Brian Cowen on how the universities and particularly the 14 institutes of technology could play a role in retraining and upskilling …” (more)

[Séan Flynn, Irish Times, 31 January]

Ógra Shinn Féin calls for Solidarity with Student March Against Fees

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“Ógra Shinn Féin has called for Irish citizens north and south, young and old, to support students in the 26 counties in their opposition to the introduction of student fees by joining USI’s national march and rally in Dublin next Wednesday February 4th. The march, beginning at the Garden of Remembrance at 1.30pm, is expected to mobilise thousands of students …” (more)

[Ógra Shinn Féin, 30 January]

UCD to slash wages as €35m deficit looms

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“UCD university is seeking to slash its wage bill as it faces the prospect of a €35m current budget deficit. Staff at the university yesterday heard that the proposed savings include a possible pay cut, reduced hours, a recruitment freeze and the non-payment of bonuses. While no enforced job losses are envisaged, the institution may seek early retirements and leaves of absence. UCD is desperate to avoid piling another €20m onto its current budget deficit of €15m …” (more)

[Cormac Murphy, Herald, 30 January]


Posted in teaching with tags , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“Old English – My absolute favorite class. It’s so much fun! We meet twice a week to learn the language in small ‘tutorials’, and once a week for a large lecture on OE literature … Academics are a little different here – instead of having class three times a week, most lectures are only one hour a week. Questions in class are discouraged. Instead, we meet in small tutorials once or twice a week for each class, where we can ask questions and talk over any problems. Even in tutorials, it is amazing how little Irish students talk …” (more)

[Zach sa Baile Átha Cliath, 26 January]

UCD to cut costs over concern that debts may reach €20m

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“UCD is set to embark on a vigorous cost-cutting programme amid fears that its accumulated debt could reach €20 million this year. In a meeting with over 1,300 staff, UCD president, Dr Hugh Brady outlined the financial crisis facing the college. He blamed this on cuts in Government funding and the recent national pay awards that cost €15 million in 2008/9. Dr Brady stopped short of signalling jobs cuts among UCD’s 3,500 staff, but he proposed a range of possible options to cut costs including a voluntary pay freeze; a freeze on recruitment; voluntary early retirement; voluntary leave of absence or reduced hours; voluntary redundancy; redeployment, deferred promotions and the restricted use of agency staff …” (more)

[Séan Flynn, Irish Times, 30 January]

Reshaping our universities

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“The seven university presidents have convened a special meeting to consider outline Government plans for a reshaping of the sector. The Government has let it be known that it favours a tighter, more efficient university network and, critically, one where there is less duplication and more focused areas of expertise. Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe wants to transform the current situation where most colleges offer a broadly similar mix of disciplines to one in which each university has a particular expertise or specialisation. Much closer alliances between colleges and even mergers have not been ruled out …” (more)

[Irish Times, 30 January]

Haughey papers to be handed over to DCU

Posted in Life with tags , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“An account of the origins of social partnership written by Charles J Haughey will be among the papers of the late taoiseach which will be handed over to Dublin City University (DCU) at a ceremony in the college next Tuesday. Also among the 250 boxes of papers covering the late taoiseach’s political life are details of the early contacts between Mr Haughey and the Belfast-based Redemptorist priest, Fr Alex Reid, in what later turned into the Northern peace process. Minister of State at the Department of Education Seán Haughey said tentative discussions on where the papers should go had begun while his father was still alive …” (more)

[Stephen Collins, Irish Times, 30 January]

UCD to slash wage bill as debt spirals out of control

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“University College, Dublin, is seeking massive cuts in its pay bill as it struggles to avoid piling a further €20m onto its unprecedented current budget deficit of €15m. The UCD cuts were unveiled yesterday as it emerged that 300 professors in the university sector, including UCD, are to enjoy backdated pay rises of €10,000 each a year, recommended two years ago and delayed because of questions over unauthorised allowances paid to some academics. In the latest moves, there will be no enforced job losses, but savings will be sought through a variety of measures …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 30 January]

UNESCO Takes On International Diploma Mills

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 30 January 2009 by Steve

“The growing demand for college degrees, the globalization of the education market, and the Internet are combining to create a more favorable climate for diploma mills around the world, says Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, chief of the section for reform, innovation, and quality assurance in higher education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Ms. Uvalic-Trumbic, who spoke this morning at the annual meeting of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, explained several measures that Unesco has taken to help prevent fake colleges from succeeding …” (more)

[Eric Kelderman, Chronicle, 29 January]

Foreign-Born Are More Likely Than Native-Born to Earn Advanced Degrees in US

Posted in teaching with tags , on 29 January 2009 by Steve

“More foreign-born residents have obtained advanced degrees in the United States than native-born Americans have, according to a new Census Bureau report, Educational Attainment in the United States, 2007. In 2007, 11 percent of foreign-born residents reported they had obtained at least a master’s degree, whereas only 10 percent of their native-born counterparts had done so …” (more)

[Megan Eckstein, Chronicle, 29 January]

Overseas students now 20% of UK graduates

Posted in teaching with tags , on 29 January 2009 by Steve

“One in five degrees awarded by British universities went to overseas students last year, according to new figures that will reignite fears that the sector relies too heavily on international students. Meanwhile, the number of UK-based students has virtually stalled with the latest figures published today showing a 1% fall to 1,964,315 overall. The figures, released today by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), give details of student enrolments and qualifications obtained at universities in the UK during the 2007-08 academic year. The majority of degrees obtained by overseas students were at postgraduate level …” (more)

[Anthea Lipsett, Guardian, 29 January]

IFUT secures Rights Commissioner award in respect of flaws in promotion process in NUIM

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 29 January 2009 by Steve

“A Rights Commissioner has awarded €4000 to an IFUT member in NUI Maynooth arising from certain inadequacies in the University’s promotion process. The Rights Commissioner found in favour of IFUT in all areas of its submission. Specifically she said …” (more)

[IFUT, 28 January]

Unjustifiable for O’Keeffe to Give €120,000 Lecturers Massive Pay Hike – Hayes

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , , , on 29 January 2009 by Steve

“It has emerged today (Thursday) that just last month Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe granted university professors, who already earn between €123,000 and €160,000, a 5.5% pay hike. Fine Gael Education Spokesman, Brian Hayes TD described this decision as unjustifiable in terms of the dire state of the public finances. ‘At a time when students face a massive hike in registration fees and over half of the universities are in a budget deficit position, unjustifiable pay awards of this nature make it impossible for agreement to be found in the area of third level reform. Batt O’Keeffe must be living on another planet if he thinks that lecturers earning over €120,000 deserve a pay hike … ’” (more)

[Fine Gael, 29 January]

Radical new agenda for universities considered

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 29 January 2009 by Steve

“A radical new agenda for the university sector, in which colleges would enter into much closer alliances or even merge, is being pushed by Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe. The seven university presidents have convened a special meeting next month to consider the move, which, sources say, could have profound implications for the future shape of the sector. One said: ‘We could be looking at the potential merger of universities and/or new alliances between the universities and the (14) institutes of technology’ …” (more)

[Séan Flynn, Irish Times, 28 January]

Top academics get backdated wage rises worth over €10,000

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 29 January 2009 by Steve

“Up to 300 senior university professors are getting backdated 8pc pay rises which will amount to more than €10,000 each. The €3m bill for additional pay was sanctioned by Minister Batt O’Keeffe’s Department of Education and Science last month, the Irish Independent has learned. Up to 5.5pc will be backdated to September 2007 and the remaining 2.5pc to last March. The disclosure of the 7.5-8pc pay rise comes as Government engages in tough talks with the social partners about slashing pay and public spending – and will only add to the budget woes of the universities, which are facing severe cutbacks …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 29 January]