Archive for 24 March 2009

Revolutionising Education

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 24 March 2009 by Steve

Ireland“The announcement that the country’s two largest universities, UCD and Trinity College are to merge to form an ‘innovation alliance’ has been met with wideranging criticism in the past week. Staff members feel that they have, yet again, been left in the dark about the direction of the university, with IFUT General Secretary, Mike Jennings, describing the manner in which the deal was completed as ‘quite disturbing’. As clear details of what exactly this merger will entail have not yet emerged, it appears that the university is maintaining the secretive manner in which it conducted its negotiations with Trinity College. By sticking closely to a single statement issued by UCD President, Dr Brady last week, staff would be forgiven for believing that the university would rather make decisions now and consult later. The motives behind this alliance can be broken down to simply a battle for survival of the fittest. Of course an alliance will benefit both UCD and Trinity College far more if they choose to stand together as opposed to competing for Government funding against one another …” (more)

[Danielle Moran, University Observer, 24 March]

NI universities urged to punish rioting students

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 24 March 2009 by Steve

UK“Politicians have called on the heads of the Northern Irish universities to punish students who took part in riots in Belfast on St Patrick’s Day. Over 19 people were arrested for the incidents with eight of those being charged with public order offenses. Reports on the other eleven people are being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service. According to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), two officers were injured during the disturbances while a number of vehicles were also damaged during the confrontation between drunken students and police. Officers were pelted with bottles, fireworks and other missiles and had to form a line to keep back the troublemakers while almost every one of the hundreds of Belfast City Council wheelie bins in the area were upturned and emptied during the day. To further investigate the incidents, a special PSNI unit has been set up to help identify those involved in the riots …” (more)

[Quinton O’Reilly, University Observer, 24 March]

Nursing students unprotected against mumps outbreak

Posted in Life with tags , , on 24 March 2009 by Steve

Ireland“A number of UCD nursing students, who were on a clinical work placement, have received late warnings to receive vaccinations to protect against a recent outbreak of mumps as the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems felt they were not at risk of infection. Fourth year students who were on placement since the beginning of January were not contacted as it was believed that they were not in risk of contracting the virus as they were not on attending classes on campus. A staff member from the School of Nursing explained that only ‘priority students’ were contacted about the outbreak as the majority of students had been on work placements. However, Director of the Student Health Service, Dr Sandra Tighe, stated that these students may still be at risk stating that ‘being on campus or not on campus is not the issue because [the virus] is in the community anyway’. The staff member didn’t acknowledge any mistake on the part of the School of Nursing …” (more)

[Áine Gilligan, University Observer, 24 March]

A graduate tax is for life, not just for a few years

Posted in Fees and access with tags , , on 24 March 2009 by Steve

UK“The National Union of Students has argued for a graduate tax, where those who have been to university pay extra income tax to contribute to the cost of higher education. In important respects, the NUS is right. At present, when a student goes to university, the Student Loans Company pays money into her bank account to pay for living costs and pays her tuition fees directly to the university. Many people still think they have to hand over a large cheque to pay for fees. They don’t. University is free, or largely so, for the student. Loan repayments are a fraction of a graduate’s earnings collected each month as a payroll deduction, alongside income tax and national insurance contributions. A graduate with low earnings makes low or no repayments, and anything not repaid after 25 years is forgiven. Thus loans – deliberately and rightly – have inbuilt insurance against inability to repay, protecting graduates who do not do well financially out of their degree …” (more)

[Nicholas Barr, Guardian, 24 March]

Overpaid Academics – The Truth behind the Spin!

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 24 March 2009 by Steve

Ireland“The contentious issue of salary remuneration for Irish academics has attracted considerable media attention with claims that Irish academia is grossly overpaid in comparison to our EU counterparts. While it is arguable that several academics of international standing and reputation are worthy of some ‘super sized’ remuneration packages, there are several more who are clearly not and the attempt by University presidents to justify their recruitment and remuneration packages on the basis of ‘world class’ research has been openly challenged. Contrary to the ongoing onslaught by the popular media on public service remuneration packages within Higher education and apart from some exceptional super sized instances, most academic staff at Irish Universities are salaried to levels that are comparable to our EU counterparts. In ongoing independent research at the reputable European University …” (more)

[Watchdog on Higher Education in Ireland, 24 March]

Do UCD/TCD job figures add up?

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 24 March 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Ten days after that big research merger between UCD and TCD, the education sector is beginning to critically examine some of the hyperbole which accompanied the alliance. The claims made on launch day were quite extraordinary and bear repetition. The new merger talked of a potential to create 30,000 new jobs and some 300 new businesses within a decade. There was heady stuff about creating a new Nokia in Ireland and talk of an enterprise corridor linking the two universities. Indeed, it is now known that some in the merger discussions were anxious to claim that up to 75,000 jobs could be created before some wider counsels intervened. But do the UCD/TCD figures add up? Certainly, there is a huge degree of scepticism in Government circles, in the Department of Education, in the Higher Education Authority and critically within the research community itself …” (more)

[Irish Times, 24 March]

O’Keeffe battling finance bosses on student fees format

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 24 March 2009 by Steve

Ireland“A furious behind-the-scenes battle is raging over the exact form of ‘contribution’ students will have to pay from next year for their college education. The Department of Finance is understood to be pressing for the straightforward return of tuition fees. But Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe prefers a graduate payment scheme which would see students repay their fees once their earnings exceed a certain threshold. From a budgetary point of view, the early return of fees would ease the pressure on the Exchequer, depending on the income threshold above which they would have to be paid. But politically such a move would lead to a storm of protest from students, and would further alienate the middle classes who benefited from the abolition of college fees in 1996 …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 24 March]