Ali Selim Awarded €7.5k from Labour Court After Unfair Dismissal by Trinity

Posted in Legal issues on September 16th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Ali Selim, the former part-time Trinity lecturer who courted controversy for comments about female genital circumcision, has been awarded €7,500 by the Labour Court after it ruled he had been dismissed unfairly by the College …” (more)

[Donal MacNamee, University Times, 16 September]

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University of Limerick Student Life launches investigation into alleged incident of ‘racial abuse’

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on September 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“University of Limerick Student Life has launched an investigation into alleged ‘racial abuse’ of a student this week. In a statement on social media, it alleged that a group of young men racially abused a student who was walking home alone …” (more)

[Mike Finnerty, Limerick Leader, 13 September]

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€397k spent by Waterford Institute of Technology did not follow guidelines

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on September 10th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Waterford Institute of Technology paid out almost €400,000 – more than a third of which went on travel – without going through proper procurement, new accounts show. In 2017, three areas of expenditure totalling €397,708 were identified by WIT that did not comply with public procurement guidelines, according to the institute’s most recently filed financial statement …” (more)

[Jess Casey, Irish Examiner, 10 September]

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Former Trinity lecturer accused of plagiarism by student

Posted in Legal issues, Research on September 9th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Adebola Adedimeji, a former Trinity lecturer, failed to defend his work in court after being accused of plagiarism by his former thesis supervisee, Annette Rochford. Rochford, a clinical nurse specialist, has accused Adedimeji of presenting her research as his own on two separate occasions …” (more)

[Jessica Hobbs Pifer, Trinity News, 8 September]

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Trinity Working With Chinese Universities Accused of Cyber Crime

Posted in Legal issues, Research on September 9th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Trinity is reportedly collaborating on research with Chinese universities that have been linked to cyber crime and international espionage. The Sunday Times today reports that Ireland’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is financing research collaborations between Irish universities – Trinity, University College Dublin and University College Cork – and two Chinese universities accused of cyber attacks …” (more)

[Orla Murnaghan, University Times, 8 September]

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Sacked academic ‘to sing like canary’ at job tribunal

Posted in Legal issues on September 7th, 2019 by steve

“A sacked Presbyterian academic claims the evidence that will emerge when his case reaches tribunal will shock Church members. Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick is taking a case against the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The latest hearing is scheduled for early next week. Professor Kirkpatrick – who worked at the Presbyterian Church’s Union Theological College – was sacked for gross misconduct earlier this year …” (more)

[David Young, Belfast Telegraph, 7 September]

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Universities and hiring policies

Posted in Legal issues on September 2nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) is very surprised and concerned at reports (News, August 27th) that Maynooth University is suing University College Dublin, disputing the latter’s right to hire an academic …” (more)

[Frank Jones, Irish Times, 2 September]

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Leading Muslim figure claims he was fired from Trinity College over female circumcision comments

Posted in Legal issues on August 30th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A leading figure in Ireland’s Muslim community has claimed he was fired from his teaching post in Trinity College Dublin as a result of controversial comments he made during an appearance on RTÉ in early 2018. The Labour Court heard an appeal today by Ali Selim, a lecturer in Arabic, against an award of €4,000 made by the Workplace Relations Commission that he had been unfairly dismissed by the university last September …” (more)

[Seán McCárthaigh, BreakingNews.ie, 30 August]

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Poaching of university staff – a brief note

Posted in Legal issues on August 29th, 2019 by steve

IrelandMaynooth University have sued University College Dublin, saying that one of their professors was persuaded by UCD to move to that institution. MU are not trying to prevent the move, but they insist that UCD have acted illegally, and want the High Court to issue a declaration to that effect. Certainly persuading academic staff to change their employer is not as such illegal, but legally speaking there is more to this.

First, MU point to an agreement of 2006, between the chief officers of the seven universities, designed to cool down any developing transfer market. Each undertook to ensure that recruitment would be ‘open and transparent and on the basis of international best practice’, to be mindful of each other’s areas of strategic importance, and to look for possibilities for collaboration.

Second, Irish legislation requires that university appointments procedures be set out ‘in a statute or regulation’ (Universities Act 1997, s 25(1)); and UCD’s statutes and regulations, at least as published online, don’t seem to allow for simply approaching some likely lad/lass and offering a professorship – appointments must usually either be by internal promotion or by open competition (see here, here and here). Having said that, the circumstances aren’t entirely clear – if this case falls into some exception in the current regulations, then no doubt UCD will point this out in short order.

Both arguments are serious, though neither seems absolutely watertight. The 2006 wording is in many respects vague, which makes it hard to demonstrate breach of the agreement, and may even suggest that it doesn’t constitute a legal contract. Its duration is vague too – and it certainly doesn’t say it binds in perpetuity. Non-compliance with the 1997 Act may be easier to demonstrate, though some may wonder about MU’s standing to complain of this – Why should they have a legal interest in UCD’s employment strategy? And if the problem is the lack of a regulation to cover this situation, UCD could resolve that for the future very easily, by writing one. So as a matter of strict law, UCD may have relatively little to worry about.

But winning the legal battle may lose them the war. If UCD are under no legal restraint in poaching staff from other Irish institutions, and can shrug off any obligation to respect ‘international best practice’ as non-binding, then yet another front opens up in the struggles each Irish university must engage in. It is hard to see how the DES will be happy with that. Quite unlike policy in a certain neighbouring jurisdiction, Irish national policy tends to stress the need for third level institutions to complement and support one another; Ireland competes with the world, but not so much with itself.

The DES have already signaled that they do not want this matter before the courts. With the ministers openly calling for ideas to include in revised university legislation, and ostentatiously planning to beef up the powers of the regulator, this is not the time to be trumpeting a current freedom to act in a way that might be considered uncollegial. So universities must settle their quarrels between themselves, or have them settled by others – peace has to break out.

But on what terms?

The Blogmeister

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Universities set for High Court battle over alleged ‘poaching’ of staff member

Posted in Legal issues on August 27th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“One of Ireland’s universities is suing another third-level institution over the alleged ‘poaching’ of one of its academic staff. The National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) has brought High Court proceedings against University College Dublin (UCD) …” (more)

[Aodhan O’Faolain and Ray Managh, BreakingNews.ie, 27 August]

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Disciplinary reform follows ‘unacceptable controversies’ at University of Limerick

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 24th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The President of the University of Limerick, Dr Des Fitzgerald has welcomed the Governing Authority’s revision of a disciplinary statute for staff of the university. The move follows what the president has described as ‘unacceptable controversies in this university which caused significant damage to the reputation of the institution’ …” (more)

[Rebecca Laffan, Limerick Leader, 23 August]

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UL whistleblowers’ situations yet to be resolved after four years

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 23rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Four years after the Limerick Leader first reported that two members of the UL finance department had been suspended after refusing the offer of a settlement package that included a confidentiality agreement, the employees known as Persons B and C have yet to have their situations resolved …” (more)

[Limerick Leader, 23 August]

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Rowing club resists plans for College Bar canopy

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 23rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The development of a canopy outside the bar at NUIG is being challenged by a local rowing club on the grounds that some of its elderly members feel intimidated by the drinkers who use the facility. Concerns relate to the access to the Eglinton Canal – it was stated that the erection of the new structure would increase the number of patrons using the area along the pathway …” (more)

[Eamon Kerrins, Connacht Tribune, 23 August]

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Lecturer warns of anti-Muslim ‘network’ after anonymous threats

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 22nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A lecturer at University College Cork (UCC) has made a complaint to the Garda after receiving an Islamophobic death threat on Wednesday. Dr Amanullah De Sondy, a senior lecturer in contemporary Islam at the university since 2015, said he received a voicemail from an unknown individual, who called the academic a ‘scumbag’, and a ‘terrorist’ …” (more)

[Colin Gleeson, Irish Times, 21 August]

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‘I hope you are executed’ – Muslim university lecturer wants action taken after receiving chilling voice message

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 22nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Officials at an Irish university have expressed disgust at a sinister telephone message left for a respected Muslim lecturer. University College Cork (UCC) lecturer Amanullah De Sondy confirmed he received a chilling voice message which called for his execution …” (more)

[Ralph Riegel, Independent, 21 August]

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Minister would ‘report college drug dealers to gardaí’

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 19th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor has said she would report those dealing drugs in colleges to gardaí. She told the Sunday Independent there was a ‘laissez-faire attitude’ to drug dealing in colleges. “I’m not talking about smoking weed, for instance. I’m talking about MDMA, ecstasy …'” (more)

[Niamh Lynch, Independent, 19 August]

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November date in Cork for Judge McDonnell recusal appeal

Posted in Legal issues on August 13th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Burkes’ request for a new judge to hear their religious discrimination case against NUI Galway will be heard by the High Court sitting in Cork on a date in November. The Burkes appealed to the High Court in June this year after Judge Petria McDonnell refused to recuse herself from hearing their case …” (more)

[Isaac Burke, Burke Broadcast, 12 August]

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Academics plead with university not to sack professor

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 12th, 2019 by steve

“Hundreds of international academics have signed an open letter in support of a jailed Hong Kong law professor being held in solitary confinement, urging his university not to dismiss him from his job. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, one of nine founders of the 2014 Umbrella movement, was sentenced to 16 months in prison in April over public nuisance charges related to his role in the mass protests that lasted for 79 days …” (more)

[Katy Wong, Independent, 12 August]

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‘Incompetent’ Murphy let colleges duck rent pressure zone rules

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 8th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The country’s universities were able to engage in widespread rent hikes because new caps introduced by the Housing Minister don’t take effect until next week. Eoghan Murphy is being accused of ‘incompetence’ after colleges pre-empted his clampdown, rendering it useless for the coming academic term. The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that students are facing rent increases of up to 11.5% year on year for university-owned and on-campus accommodation …” (more)

[Kevin Doyle, Cormac McQuinn and Gabija Gataveckaite, Independent, 8 August]

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Surge in university students wearing banned smartwatches in exams

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on August 8th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Universities have recorded a sharp increase in the number of students wearing banned smartwatches in exam halls. Most third-level institutions prohibit the use of Fitbits, Apple Watches and other devices which allow users to upload and access documents …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 8 August]

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