College heads must hold nerve

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 30th, 2008 by steve

“There were long faces and some bad tempers after last week’s meeting between Batt O’Keeffe and the university presidents. The meeting was a tetchy affair. Several college heads, notably John Hegarty of Trinity and John Hughes of Maynooth, came away convinced that the Minister was not in listening mode – especially on their proposed student-loan system. The presidents – led by current chair Hugh Brady of UCD – talked about the big picture, a vision for higher education into the future. But for Batt, it was all about brass tacks …” (more)

[Irish Times, 30 September]

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NUI Maynooth vs TCD at the top of the Sunday Times university rankings

Posted in Governance and administration on September 30th, 2008 by steve

“There are lots of university league tables out there; and the University of Edinburgh maintains an excellent page assessing these various leagues and rankings. For example, Times Higher Education, Newsweek, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Wuhan University and all produce annual tables of universities worldwide …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 29 September]

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Political bias in the universities?

Posted in Life on September 28th, 2008 by steve

“At a recent function I was attending a fellow guest expressed the view that public money given to universities was sometimes spent on disseminating partisan political views. It was no secret, he suggested, that universities were dominated by academics with left-wing views, and that these academics were being paid to indoctrinate impressionable students. I asked for an example of this dangerous phenomenon, and he proceeded to name a lecturer in the university from which he had graduated, and who is indeed a socialist. I pointed out to my fellow guest that, in the same university department at that time, there had been three lecturers with well known conservative views. Ah, but you can’t count those, he said, perhaps not entirely logically …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 28 September]

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Furious college heads round on O’Keeffe in talks

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 28th, 2008 by steve

“Embattled education minister Batt O’Keeffe was “rounded on” by the heads of the universities about the funding crisis in the country’s colleges in their meeting last week. While last Wednesday’s unique meeting between the minister and the seven heads of the universities was described publicly as productive, in truth, several “highly heated” and “frank” exchanges occurred. With Ireland among the lowest in the OECD when it comes to funding from the State, the college heads have said they are at “tipping point”, and if the situation is not addressed quickly, then Ireland will see a major exodus of its leading academics and researchers…” (more)

[Daniel McConnell, Independent, 28 September]

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Economist of flawed fees report is friend of minister

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 28th, 2008 by steve

“The controversial academic commissioned to carry out the flawed study on the return of third-level fees for the Department of Education is the husband of education minister Batt O’Keeffe’s personal assistant. The Sunday Tribune has established that Dr Noel Woods’ wife Katherine was first appointed as the then junior minister’s personal assistant in August 2004. She had also run his constituency office prior to that, sources said, and has stayed working with him since he became the minister for education. Dr Woods, who is a dental economist, estimated in a study “commissioned” by Minister O’Keeffe that the return of third-level fees could yield €530m to the exchequer …” (more)

[Ken Foxe, Sunday Tribune, 28 September]

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University Presidents seek commitment from Minister to work with them on a new funding plan

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 28th, 2008 by steve

“The Presidents of the Seven Universities today called on the Minister for Education and Science, Mr. Batt O’Keefe to commit to a new “bold and imaginative” approach to the funding of Irish Higher Education. The Presidents noted the success of the Government’s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, as shown by recent high tech jobs announcements by IDA and Enterprise Ireland. They stressed that investment in our universities to support higher skills and more innovation is the best way to defeat the economic problems facing the country. Meeting Minister O’Keefe the Presidents expressed their grave concern at the emerging financial situation …” (more)

[IUA Press Release, 24 September]

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Irish education must spread its wings beyond these shores

Posted in Teaching on September 26th, 2008 by steve

“In the emerging markets of east Asia and the Persian Gulf, we are witnessing an unprecedented surge in economic growth. While much has been written about the advances made by Chinese manufacturers or the financial institutions setting up shop in Dubai, there has been an equally strong expansion of the global market in education in emerging economies. It is an incredible opportunity for anybody involved in education, but I fear that Ireland – with a few notable exceptions – is not exploiting this opportunity as well as it could …” (more)

[Feargal Quinn, Irish Times, 26 September]

Half of pupils plan to work abroad after graduation

Posted in Teaching on September 26th, 2008 by steve

“Third level students are so concerned about job prospects in Ireland that half of them are planning to travel abroad to work once they graduate, a new survey reveals. Only 58pc claim to have any confidence in getting a job at home related to their qualification within six months of graduating. They don’t see this situation getting any better, with more than three in four agreeing that future graduates may also have to seek employment abroad …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 26 September]

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Meeting the Minister

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 25th, 2008 by steve

“Today the seven Irish university heads (accompanied by the CEO of the Irish Universities Association) met the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe TD. To get the substance of the meeting out of the way, it was made clear by the Minister that the growing crisis in public finances would make it very difficult to provide resources for the higher education sector that would compensate for inflation and any accumulated under-funding. We did talk about possible ways of alleviating the problems we faced, and some longer term strategic options (one of which is, of course, the return of tuition fees). It wasn’t a cheerful meeting – there was nothing cheery that anyone could really say. But at any rate it was a constructive engagement between the Minister and the presidents, and that’s a good thing …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 September]

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University presidents brace for more cuts

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 25th, 2008 by steve

“University Presidents are bracing themselves for another round of funding cuts in the budget after a “business-like” meeting with Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe yesterday. Sources say the Minister tends to favour the return of third-level fees, rather than the student loan scheme championed by the college heads. The Minister was slow to commit to another meeting with the college heads next month, despite a specific request from UCD president Dr Hugh Brady. Some college heads emerged from the meeting convinced that another round of cutbacks is coming …” (more)

[Seán Flynn , Irish Times, 24 September]

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Department reviews fresh fees estimate

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 25th, 2008 by steve

“Revised estimates on what a return to third level tuition fees will produce are being considered by the Department of Education and Science. The figures were compiled by the Higher Education Authority at the request of Minister Batt O’Keeffe. The authority looked at the likely income generated by fees from students from households of different means …” (more)

[John Walshe and Barry Dugan, Independent, 24 September]

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Cuts ‘will trigger brain drain of top academics’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 25th, 2008 by steve

“A brain drain of leading academics and researchers will stem from the latest cutbacks, university heads told Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe yesterday. They said the cuts had created a “tipping point” that make it impossible to shield students and frontline services from their impact. They warned that the creation of jobs across a range of disciplines in the sciences and humanities would have to be halted. This would lead to leading teachers and researchers emigrating …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 24 September]

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O’Keeffe to discuss student loan plan with universities

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 24th, 2008 by steve

“Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has reacted positively to the proposed introduction of a student loan system. But he wants university presidents to “flesh out” their proposals at a key meeting between both sides today. A ministerial spokesman said the plan for an Australian style loan system was a “constructive contribution” to the debate on tuition charges …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 24 September]

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Students protest restoration of fees

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 24th, 2008 by steve

“More than 1,000 students from four third-level institutions took to the streets yesterday to protest over the proposed reintroduction of college fees. Students from the University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College of Education and Limerick School of Art and Design marched through the city centre. Press Officer for Limerick Association of Students’ Unions, Aoife Breen, said the reintroduction of college fees would deny some people the opportunity of going to college. “It’s blocking people before they even get a chance to enter third level and is commandeering education,” she said …” (more)

[Kathryn Hayes, Irish Times, 24 September]

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Department reviews fresh fees estimate

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 24th, 2008 by steve

“Revised estimates on what a return to third level tuition fees will produce are being considered by the Department of Education and Science. The figures were compiled by the Higher Education Authority at the request of Minister Batt O’Keeffe. The authority looked at the likely income generated by fees from students from households of different means …” (more)

[John Walshe and Barry Duggan, Independent, 24 September]

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Loans & top-up fees on the agenda

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 24th, 2008 by steve

“A still unresolved issue, however, is whether government will accept the ‘top-up’ aspect as opposed to using the fees to substitute for their core funding provision – in other words simply shifting the financial burden to (future) tax payers but not increasing the overall income to the universities themselves. Who knows? But the presidents of the universities meet the Minister for Education tomorrow …” (more)

[Iain Mac Labhrainn, Summa cum Laude, 23 September]

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Footnote on Fees and Funding

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 24th, 2008 by steve

“As the debate about the reintroduction of some form of third level fees rumbles on (and on, and on), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) – a UK think tank established in 2002 with the laudable aim of ensuring that higher education policy development in the UK is informed by research and by knowledge of the experience of others – has just published a report by Juliet Chester and Bahram Bekhradnia on Financial support in English universities: the case for a national bursary scheme …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 23 September]

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Unconventional wisdom

Posted in Governance and administration on September 24th, 2008 by steve

“Ferdinand Von Prondzynski, DCU president: As well-known for his Facebook and Bebo profiles as for his renegade attitude towards the education hierarchy and his committed assaults on many of Ireland’s sacred cows, DCU president Ferdinand Von Prondzynski is about as untypical a university head as it is possible to be. When Ferdinand Von Prondzynski was appointed director of DCU in 2000, a fellow university head is said to have quipped that the “Red Baron has gone to Ballymun”. Prondzynski gained a profile as a socialist while lecturing and researching labour law. But the man is, as you might expect, more complex than the moniker …” (more)

[Louise Holden, Irish Times, 23 September]

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Colleges propose student loans instead of new fees

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 23rd, 2008 by steve

“A radical plan for a ‘deferred loans’ scheme for thousands of students has been drawn up by university heads, the Irish Independent can reveal. Under the plan, students would start to pay back the ‘loan’ within a few years of graduation, after they have reached a certain salary level. It will be put to Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe as an alternative to the straightforward return of tuition fees when university chiefs meet him tomorrow. The ‘income contingent loan’ would pay for part of undergraduate third-level education which, at the moment, is paid entirely by the State. Students would have the option of either availing of the ‘deferred loan’ or else paying what would be known as ‘top-up’ fees up-front when they enter college …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 23 September]

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University heads want fees paid by student loans

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 23rd, 2008 by steve

“University presidents will lobby for the introduction of an Australian-style student loan system when they meet Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe tomorrow. The seven college heads have decided to oppose the return of the old fees regime, abolished in 1995, as problematic and inequitable. Instead, they favour a system where Exchequer support for colleges would be “topped up” by student fees. But the cost of these fees would be lent to students and repaid once they start working. They say this would help shift the burden of college fees from the parent to the student who actually benefits from higher education …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 23 September]

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