Waterford’s case for a university

Posted in Governance and administration on February 27th, 2009 by steve

“Madam, – A year has passed since the publication of the Port report on the readiness of Waterford IT to serve as a university for the south-east. Since then, after a change of Education Minister, and six months beyond the statement by Minister O’Keefe in October that a decision would be made ‘in the coming weeks’, the case lies dormant and seemingly ignored. The south-east region provides residence for over 460,000 people who are awaiting the opportunity to provide for themselves – the same opportunity afforded to all other, similarly sized regions in Ireland. Years have passed since this question was first brought before government and a point of stagnation has been reached due to the inertia displayed on this matter by political leaders …” (more)

[Jonathan Brazil, Irish Times, 27 February]

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French Government Backs Down Amid Protests Over Higher-Education Proposals

Posted in Governance and administration on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“The French government has yielded to pressure following weeks of protests and disruptions at universities across the country and announced that a controversial decree governing the hiring and promotion of researchers engaged in teaching would be ‘entirely rewritten on the basis of discussions conducted by Valérie Pécresse [the higher-education minister] with the organizations in question.’ The statement, issued Wednesday evening by the office of Prime Minister François Fillon, followed Mr. Fillon’s meeting with the leaders of the Conference of University Presidents. The government also announced that university job cuts scheduled for 2010 and 2011 would not be carried out …” (more)

[Aisha Labi, Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 February]

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Drunks lead university authorities to withdraw support for rag

Posted in Life on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“Drunken and unruly students have led the senior management of a Galway university to redraw their support for the annual charity rag week. The event ‘will no longer form part of the university calendar’, NUI Galway (NUIG) senior management said in a statement, according to the Irish Times. ‘Unfortunately this week of charitable events has been overshadowed by a minority of students using this time as an opportunity for excessive drinking, leading ultimately to unsafe, unruly and anti-social behaviour,’ NUIG management said …” (more)

[UK Fundraising, 26 February]

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California Legislation Would Tie College Executives’ Pay to Tuition

Posted in Governance and administration on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“A California lawmaker is proposing to prohibit raises for executives at the state’s public colleges and universities in years that they raise tuition. The bill, announced yesterday, would apply to the University of California, California State University, and the state’s community-college system. It would cap executive compensation for presidents, chancellors, vice chancellors, and general counsels at the three systems if they chose to raise mandatory student fees during the same fiscal year. The bill’s author, State Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat, has been one of the most persistent critics of the University of California during the past few years …” (more)

[Josh Keller, Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 February]

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In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth

Posted in Teaching on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“One idea that elite universities like Yale, sprawling public systems like Wisconsin and smaller private colleges like Lewis and Clark have shared for generations is that a traditional liberal arts education is, by definition, not intended to prepare students for a specific vocation. Rather, the critical thinking, civic and historical knowledge and ethical reasoning that the humanities develop have a different purpose: They are prerequisites for personal growth and participation in a free democracy, regardless of career choice. But in this new era of lengthening unemployment lines and shrinking university endowments, questions about the importance of the humanities in a complex and technologically demanding world have taken on new urgency …” (more)

[Patricia Cohen, New York Times, 24 February]

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QUB: No Irish Need Apply

Posted in Legal issues on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“A shocking discovery made by The Gown in recent weeks has unearthed racial inequality on the part of QUB. The Management School, one of the university’s leading bodies, took the seemingly innocuous decision to advertise a bursary for their postgraduate programmes. However, said bursaries were for GB students only, that is, students from England, Scotland and Wales. Thus excluding students from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Europe. The Gown can confirm that QUB have since retraced their steps, and have made applications for the bursary open to all students. Meanwhile, the controversial GB clause has been amended on new advertisements detailing the bursary …” (more)

[The Gown, 26 February]

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Foreign students leaving UK debts

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“Up to 70% of students from other European Union countries are failing to repay student loans they took out while at UK universities, the BBC has learnt. The Student Loans Company says 2,240 students should have begun repayments but 1,580 are not accounted for. A Spanish student said she had heard nothing five years after graduating. The government says the SLC is doing what it can to track people down. Take-up of the entitlement is growing fast, with 46,000 now having borrowed £130m …” (more)

[Andrew Bomford, BBC News, 26 February]

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UCU says teaching excellence needs to be properly rewarded

Posted in Teaching on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“UCU said today that teaching had to be properly recognised in our universities as new research revealed that academic staff think teaching should be important when it comes to promotions, but few believe it actually is. A full report from the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is expected later this year that will include the results of a study into higher education institutions’ policies for recognising teaching and how the policies are being implemented. Key findings from the survey include: over 90% of academic staff think that teaching should be important in promotions; most academics feel that the status of teaching is low in comparison with research …” (more)

[UCU, 25 February]

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Morrissey to be celebrated by Irish University

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“The University of Limerick is to hold a two-day symposium to celebrate the career of Morrissey. The event, entitled The Songs That Saved Your Life (Again), will include the premiere of the documentary, Passions Just Like Mine. The film, which has been directed by Kerri Koch, tells the story of the former Smiths star’s Latino fan base. There will also be an open discussion about the significance of Morrissey as a cultural icon …” (more)

[Jason Gregory, Gigwise, 26 February]

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No Lobbying Needed

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“In the province of Munster a campaign organised by Youth Defence is under way to highlight opposition and calling a halt to Human Embryo Research at University College Cork. A lobby of the University, the local politicians, the government party seems necessary. However, this is not needed. Our University presidents, our local TD, our government know full well of what is involved … Young people attending UCC is now not an option. Parents are not funding such a university. Catholics will oppose this. We are not pushovers. Our politicians have met pro-family activists time and time again. Our constitution protects the traditional family and children. Irish taxes will not go to the funding of embryo research in UCC. Let us all call on University College Cork to change its decision.” (more)

[Thought and Action, 25 February]

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Tánaiste defends €24m research spend

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“Tánaiste Mary Coughlan has defended a €24 million investment in scientific research, saying it would help create jobs and build a ‘smart economy’ for Ireland. The Government was committed to this investment and would support research despite the economic difficulties, Ms Coughlan said yesterday. She was speaking at the launch in Dublin of five new ‘strategic research clusters’ that will build links between academic scientists and private sector companies. ‘With this kind of research we can attract and sustain employment,’ she said. Funding for the clusters comes via Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). When asked whether the money might have been better spent in public services, she defended the investment …” (more)

[Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times, 26 February]

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Oz elite damn review as a ‘road map to mediocrity’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“After six weeks spent digesting Australia’s most comprehensive review of higher education in recent times, the country’s elite universities have branded it a ‘road map to mediocrity’. The Review of Australian Higher Education, chaired by Denise Bradley, former vice-chancellor of the University of South Australia, recommended a radical overhaul of the sector, including a massive expansion in student numbers. Its significance to Australian higher education has been likened to the impact in the UK of Lord Dearing’s review in 1997, but now the Group of Eight, which represents Australia’s most prestigious research-led institutions, has criticised its findings. The group met Julia Gillard, Minister of Education, to discuss its concerns. It said the recommendations of the review risked setting students up for a fall and wasting public money …” (more)

[John Gill, Times Higher Education, 26 February]

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MPs attack top universities for failing to open doors to poorest students

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“Leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, are failing to shed their elitist image, according to a report by MPs which reveals that a £400m drive to encourage people from the poorest backgrounds to go to university has resulted in only a marginal increase in applications. Universities, schools and the government are all blamed for failing to tackle the bias in applications, which means that more than twice the proportion of the richest school leavers go to university compared with those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. A Commons public accounts committee report published today – which has been instantly disputed by ministers – claims the government has failed to track what universities have done with £392m in grants to universities since 2001 to open access to people from different backgrounds …” (more)

[Polly Curtis, Guardian, 26 February]

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NUIG withdraws its support for rag week because of ‘unruly behaviour’

Posted in Life on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“NUI Galway says a ‘series of unfortunate incidents’ influenced its decision to withdraw its support for the university’s annual rag week. The event ‘will no longer form part of the university calendar’, NUI Galway (NUIG) senior management said in a statement yesterday. ‘Unfortunately this week of charitable events has been overshadowed by a minority of students using this time as an opportunity for excessive drinking, leading ultimately to unsafe, unruly and anti-social behaviour,’ NUIG management said. ‘NUIG does not condone this behaviour and treats such breaches of conduct very seriously,’ it said, and it apologised to Galway city residents who had experienced ‘disruption or distress’ this week. It is understood there have been 42 arrests …” (more)

[Lorna Siggins, Irish Times, 26 February]

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Backing for appliance of science to UK strengths

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“The Government will push ahead with its controversial plan to align research funding with the UK’s future industrial strengths. The plan could see funding concentrated on fields that are considered useful to the economy, while other areas may receive less money. The proposal, put forward last month by Lord Drayson, the Science Minister, was backed by John Denham, the Universities Secretary, in a speech at the Royal Academy of Engineering last week. In the speech he said the question was no longer ‘whether’ to choose which areas to back but ‘how’ to choose them. He reiterated this in an interview with Times Higher Education. Mr Denham said that UK research funding should ‘focus on those areas where there are significant growth opportunities over the next 20 years; where the UK has a realistic prospect of being a world leader; and where we have a clear competitive advantage’ …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 26 Febuary]

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Ministers won’t say the F-word – it’s up to us to make the case for fees

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“A government-commissioned report on university top-up fees last week told us what we all suspected it would tell us: they need to go up. But those who imagine that the Government is moving its tanks into position and that the battle to raise fees is about to begin will be sorely disappointed. Sensible though it may be, the Chisholm review is little more than a political diversion. Sir John Chisholm has told us that universities need more cash and that some of it must come from the students who benefit from higher education, but the Government has been at pains to stress that this is his private view. Sir John’s report is just one of a staggering 17 independent mini-reviews on higher education commissioned by the Government, all designed to raise lots of knotty questions (not answers) and to make sure that everybody is so busy reviewing things that we hardly notice that the one review that matters – the review that decides whether we raise the £3,000 limit on top-up fees or not – does not seem to be happening …” (more)

[Anna Fazackerley, Times Higher Education, 26 February]

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Delay cost student his place in Trinity

Posted in Teaching on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“A Co Dublin student was denied a place in Trinity’s medical school, even though he secured the required CAO points after appealing his Leaving Cert results. The Department of Education say it regrets ‘the inconvenience caused’ to David Joyce and his mother Charlotte. But the department insists it is not possible to change the current arrangements where Leaving Cert appeals are published several weeks after college places are filled. David Joyce secured 570 points in his provisional Leaving Cert last August, just outside the points requirement for medicine in Trinity. After successfully appealing grades in two subjects, his revised Leaving Cert result released in October was 590 points, well inside the points threshold for his chosen course in Trinity. But by this time, TCD was unable to award him a place in the course and it offered to defer his place for one year …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 26 February]

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Mooted change to discipline rules stirs Cambridge debate

Posted in Legal issues on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“Anachronistic or a vital shield from the evils of modern management, the University of Cambridge’s archaic disciplinary procedures are splitting opinion at the 800-year-old institution. The debate is being fuelled by plans to replace the procedures with a more contemporary system that would see academic and non-academic staff treated equally. The procedures, which also cover grievances and dismissals, are enshrined in Cambridge’s statutes. They can be changed only by the governing body of dons, known as the Regent House, and the Privy Council. Now, a White Paper from the university council and general board suggests replacing them with a shorter statute and a new code of practice and regulations. These would be placed in the university ordinances, which can be changed without Privy Council approval, and supplemented by codes of practice from the council …” (more)

[Melanie Newman, Times Higher Education, 26 February]

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Students’ sense of entitlement angers academics

Posted in Teaching on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“Concern is building that US students have developed an unhealthy sense of ‘entitlement’ to higher education. When Times Higher Education columnist John H Summers described his experiences as a lecturer at Harvard University, saying that students sometimes viewed him as in their pay and duty-bound to award top grades, the account caused fierce online debate. Now the issue has raised its head again in The New York Times, which reported a recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine. It found that a third of students expect a B grade just for attending lectures and completing the required reading. The newspaper quotes Marshall Grossman, professor of English at the University of Maryland, who said that he now expects complaints whenever he reveals grades to his students. ‘Many … come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark. Some assert that they have never got a grade as low as this before,’ he said …” (more)

[John Gill, Times Higher Education, 26 February]

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Investing in high value knowledge

Posted in Research on February 26th, 2009 by steve

“… It is indeed noteworthy that President Obama has emphasised the role of laboratories and universities in helping to find the way out of the recession. And in fairness to the Irish government, its continued funding of SFI’s research programmes (and other research) even in these uncertain times indicates that this is understood and accepted in Ireland.” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 26 February]

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