Archive for 8 February 2009

Universities, disadvantage and postal codes

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 8 February 2009 by Steve

“Last week the Guardian newspaper had an interesting article about the postcode profile of university entrants. It found, probably to nobody’s great surprise, that people living in certain postal districts are overwhelmingly more likely to go to university than those in others. We know that is true in Ireland as well: Dublin 4 has a close to 100% participation rate in higher education, and Dublin 9 (which includes DCU) has a figure well below 20% (with some areas within it less than 5%) …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 8 February]

Time to rethink intellectual property laws?

Posted in Legal issues on 8 February 2009 by Steve

“The speed of the global economic collapse is provoking a widespread – many would say belated – realisation that many of the beliefs underlying economic expansion over the past 20 years need close questioning, particularly those involving the relationship between the state and the market …. Take, for example, the aura that surrounds the 1980s US Bayh-Dole Act, which gave US universities, for the first time, ownership of patents arising from government-funded research. There is a widely-held belief this helped the US economy’s explosive growth in the following two decades, making many universities – and the scientists who work for them – rich in the process. Those with interests in the commercial rather than the social value of science, actively promote this view. This conviction, for example, has led South Africa to introduce similar legislation … Yet there is very little empirical evidence to show that the Bayh-Dole Act has had the claimed effect in the United States, let alone that it is appropriate for developing countries …” (more)

[David Dickson, University World News, 8 February]

Lecturers strike despite increased funding

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 8 February 2009 by Steve

“As Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, was last week announcing a €731 million economic boost to the sector, lecturers at universities throughout France were intensifying strike action against a planned change to the statute governing their employment. The ‘national coordination of higher education and research’ consisting of unions and other associations representing protesting academics had called for the strike to start last Monday. That afternoon nearly 400 academics, including delegates mandated by their universities, attended a meeting at the Sorbonne in Paris where a vote confirmed the call for ‘an unlimited and general strike’. During the week, staff at universities throughout the country organised general meetings to vote on protest action against Pécresse’s proposals to make their conditions of work more ‘flexible’ …” (more)

[Jane Marshall, University World News, 8 February]

FEE Report from February 4th

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , , on 8 February 2009 by Steve

“… As the protest reached the platform, we decided that some sort of concrete action be taken, since USI’s idea of a strong message is getting thousands out on the streets, having them listen to monotonous electoral drones and then engaging with them through a public meeting. With the support of the WSM, the SP, Ógra Sinn Féin and the SWP, we managed to gather a group of about 300 students and march through the street right to the front of the Dáil. The vibrant atmosphere that had been lost by many students during the protest was regained in our breakaway, as we reclaimed the streets, marched to the Dáil and held a sit-down protest. The momentum that was sparked was truly sensational and I’m confident that many students who were previously uninvolved will now be activists in this common struggle. Paul Murphy and myself from UCD FEE, Áine from NUIG FEE and a representative from the Campaign to Defeat Fees in Northern Ireland gave brief speeches on the issue of fees, what FEE stands for and our immediate strategies for future action. Although there were some divergences, the one message that resonated loud and clear is that we need a mass grassroots campaign that has great support from other sectors of society (workers, unions, pensioners, secondary level students etc) that pushes for one-day shutdown of the 3rd level system …” (more)

[Julian Brophy, Indymedia Ireland, 8 February]

Debt-hit UCD to use land profit to buy pool

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 8 February 2009 by Steve

“Cash-strapped University College, Dublin, has made a €15m profit on a land swap deal, but is not using the money to pay down its debt but to fund a new Olympic-sized swimming pool. Ireland’s largest university, currently burdened with a mounting funding shortfall of almost €16m, did the deal with a developer for a piece of land adjacent to the luxurious campus house of UCD President Dr Hugh Brady. Criticism from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) described the college’s debt levels as ‘totally unacceptable’. Amid unrest among the college’s faculty and student representatives over reduced budgets and unfilled positions, college sources have also confirmed that other large-scale capital developments projects are in jeopardy. The land swap represents a new wave of thinking in terms of income generation at a time when operating budgets are under severe pressure …” (more)

[Daniel McConnell, Independent, 8 February]

‘No Cutbacks, No Fees, No Fianna Fáil TD’s!’, images from Student Protest of 25,000 in Dublin

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , , on 8 February 2009 by Steve

“It was big, it was loud. The march went to Merrion Square bypassing the gardaí protecting the back entrance to the Dáil. A worker from Waterford Crystal was the first to address the assembled crowds. He was warmly welcomed and quite overwhelmed with the amount of support. Next up, Mike Jennings, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), said, ‘Speaking as a representative of the generation that benefited from the decision of Donagh O’Malley to introduce free second-level education, I can testify to the very real difference that not having to pay fees makes to individuals and society alike.’ Fine Gael had a few words while Ruairi Quinn, former Labour party leader …” (more)

[Indymedia Ireland, 7 February]