I haven’t had a chance to look at this report in detail yet, but the most important section so far as universities are concerned appears to be the following (pp38-39):
“Consistent with the priorities set out in their Departmental Strategy Statements, Ministers will sign – in public – Public Service Agreements with service delivery bodies (such as universities, the Gardai, the HSE), specifying the activities, outputs and long-term outcomes that the Government will promise to the Oireachtas in return for money from the taxpayer. These Public Service Agreements will:
• Put emphasis on the intended impacts of programmes for the public;
• Provide quantitative targets and ‘baseline’ data to enable changes in performance to be assessed over time; and
• Provide good explanations to link agencies’ activities with changing outcomes for the population.
The quality of Public Service Agreements will be audited by the new Office of Public Spending and Modernisation.”
What this means may depend on what else is intended – in other words, are these new Public Service Agreeements to be the main control of universities, or are they to be added to existing controls? This is not addressed directly, though one rather vague proposal (below) hints at fewer controls.
Other proposals of interest to the HE sector are:
“We will set a salary cap of €200,000 across politics and the public sector.” (p15)
“As has happened in Australia, we will create, out of a merger and rationalisation of existing structures, a new ‘one-stop shop’ Payments and Entitlements Service (PES) to process citizen entitlements, beginning with: [8 grant schemes including] Higher education grants administered by local authorities.” (p56)
“To support training, we re-allocate money from FÁS and the National Training Fund into Training Vouchers that will empower the unemployed to define and acquire their own training and re-skilling needs from VECs, Institutes of Technology and other education and training providers.” (p73)
“We will re-allocate money from the National Science and Innovation Strategy to double the maximum value of innovation vouchers for small and medium sized enterprises to €10,000. This will help small businesses to shape the research agenda of universities and other knowledge providers in a way that makes them more relevant to the commercial challenges facing Irish businesses.” (p74)
“We will devolve authority to universities, and ultimately to Institutes of Technology, over investment, staffing, pay and other employment conditions.” (p78)
“Merge the Higher Education Authority into the Department [of Education and Skills] (research funding to go to SFI)” (p83)Tags: Fine Gael