Archive for 30 March 2009

Joint research project between Trinity and UCD

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

Ireland“The recent announcement of a research merger between Trinity and UCD should be greeted with a cautious welcome. Much of the debate on the future of universities and university funding has focused on the suggestion that the State should concentrate Exchequer resources on certain universities. This is usually based on the presumption that there is a saturation of universities, which the taxpayer cannot afford to subsidise. It should be noted, however, that there are seven universities in the State for a population of 4.2 million (1.67 universities per million). But Massachusetts, for example, has 17 universities for a population of 6.5 million (2.6 universities per million) …” (more)

[David Browne, Irish Times, 30 March]

Debate on third-level tuition fees

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

Ireland“Sarah Carey’s concerns about the Labour Party’s commitment to social justice would have been quickly assuaged had she checked her facts first (Opinion, 25 March 2009). She is correct in pointing out that the road to third-level begins even before a child starts school, and that early intervention is essential if we are to give every child a genuine opportunity to get there. This is why, even before abolishing the university fees that were an obstacle to PAYE families, Labour established the Early Start pre-school programme for disadvantaged children. This programme in disadvantaged areas is exactly what Ms Carey advocates. If she is unaware of its existence, this may be because it has languished for years as a perpetual ‘pilot project’ under successive Fianna Fáil ministers for education …” (more)

[Ruairi Quinn, Irish Times, 30 March]

The purpose of higher education reform

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

Ireland“Over recent months a significant number of commentators – in the media, in politics, from industry and elsewhere – have suggested that major reform in Irish higher education is needed. Furthermore, the Minister for Education and Science has, as we know, established a strategic review process for higher education. Most of the discussion that this has generated has been about the reform of structures, and in particular the possibility of rationalisation; this has been covered in previous posts in this blog. In fact, the time is right for considering reform – including some quite radical reform – of the Irish higher education system; but as in all questions of strategic reform, it is doubtful whether this should start with structures …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 29 March]

Students to ‘shut down’ UCD campus over fees

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

Ireland“Students in University College Dublin will stage a ‘university shutdown’ tomorrow in protest at the reintroduction of third-level fees. This will involve boycotting all classes and academic matters for 24 hours, as well as staging protests across the campus for the duration of the action. A referendum deciding on the course of action was passed by 82% of students in the college. It is understood that a rally will also be held on the day, which is expected to attract thousands of students. UCD staff will not be striking on the same day, after the cancellation of the planned national one-day stoppage …” (more)

[Jennifer Bray, Tribune, 29 March]

O’Keeffe finalises fees proposal

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

Ireland“Education minister Batt O’Keeffe is finalising a number of ‘outstanding details’ before presenting his preferred structure for the reintroduction of third-level fees to cabinet. A spokesman for the minister said he would bring his report on student contribution to cabinet ‘very shortly’. Sources believe it will be completed by the end of this week. However, no date has been formally set for the publication of the report until the fine-tuning is completed. Department of Education officials are preparing a report of various fees structures and O’Keeffe will indicate to his fellow ministers his preferred option and ask for them to support it. A spokesman for the minister said the final recommendation would be based on ‘the four key principles of equity, access, participation and affordability’ …” (more)

[Martha Kearns, Sunday Business Post, 29 March]

Leaders highlight universities’ role in downturn

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

EU“Five hundred university leaders who gathered in Prague this month called on European governments to invest in higher education during the economic and financial crisis. Meeting at the fifth convention of higher education institutions, organised by the European University Association, the rectors said universities had a key role as a ‘motor’ for economic recovery by providing the research-based education at all levels needed to promote creativity and innovation. EUA President Professor Jean-Marc Rapp told the meeting European universities were a long-term investment in the continent’s future …” (more)

[University World News, 29 March]

Radical plan to slash generous public sector pension benefit

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

Ireland“All new entrants to the public sector face the prospect of losing the traditionally generous defined benefit pension under a radical plan being considered by the government that would save the exchequer billions of euro in pension contributions. The plan, which would see new recruits being shifted to less generous defined contribution pension schemes commonplace in the private sector, would prove controversial with the public sector unions. They regard defined contribution pensions as ‘yellow pack’, because the final pension is dependent on investment returns, compared to defined benefit arrangements, where the employer, in this case the government, takes all the risk. The plans do not seek to alter in any way the pension entitlements of current workers or those already retired …” (more)

[Emmet Oliver and Shane Coleman, Tribune, 29 March]

Briefing: Third-level fees

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

Ireland“After a lengthy softening-up process, Batt O’Keeffe, the education minister, has achieved a grudging consensus that it’s time for students to pay for their third-level education again. There have been no fees since 1996, when they were axed by the rainbow coalition. O’Keeffe said last week that he will bring proposals to cabinet ‘very shortly’. Leaks from the Department of Education indicate that he will be recommending an Australian-style graduate tax, with students having to repay the cost of their education once in employment. Another feature of the Australian system — a discount if you pay in full up-front — is expected to be included. This would generate €70m a year straight away, which would appeal to the cash-starved Department of Finance …” (more)

[John Burns, Sunday Times, 29 March]