Gerard Manley Hopkins, a terrible teacher who hated UCD

Posted in Life on May 23rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“To a non-Irish observer like myself, it does Ireland immense credit that the country has taken Gerard Manley Hopkins so enthusiastically to its heart. It is Ireland, not his native England, that honours the Victorian poet with an annual festival, houses the world’s leading Hopkins archive and gives an annual set of awards in his name …” (more)

[Simon Edge, Irish Times, 22 May]

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An Academic Sabbatical: Ten Reasons Why it works

Posted in Life on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Fashion designers, world leaders, chief executives and academics have long recognised the importance of sabbaticals of varying duration (normally weeks to a year) to provide clarity of thought. However, before their first sabbatical, I doubt any of them could truly gauge the profound impact it would have on them …” (more)

[Peter Francis,, 15 May]


University exam stress: ‘I’ve seen many of my friends turn to ADHD drugs’

Posted in Life on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Your university years may be the best of your life, but they will also be peppered with exam stress. Exams loom large in the lives of students and I’m writing this to bring some attention to the unhealthy and outdated term structure in our universities …” (more)

[, 14 May]

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RAG week ‘shenanigans’ not unique to Ireland

Posted in Life on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“‘There was shenanigans in Galway again this year during Rag Week.’ That is the oft-repeated statement which I was confronted with yet again at a recent family gathering. Previously, I would have taken the easy option by simply nodding as if in agreement. However, having completed one exciting Erasmus semester at a University in Germany, one of the many changes that I noticed within myself is that the nod had developed into an emphatic shake of the head …” (more)

[Alison O’Brien, Irish Times, 12 May]

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Tributes paid to former UCD registrar Caroline Hussey on her death

Posted in Life on May 14th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Tributes have been paid to former University College Dublin registrar and academic Dr Caroline Hussey who has died following a short illness. A former lecturer in biochemistry, she made an early transition to academic administrator and served as registrar and deputy president of UCD from 1994 until her retirement in 2004 …” (more)

[Conor Gallagher, Irish Times, 13 May]

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Some Lesser-Known Truths About Academe

Posted in Life on May 9th, 2017 by steve

“Asking a professor whether you should pursue a PhD is a little like asking The Rock — aka Dwayne Douglas Johnson, the world’s highest-paid actor last year — whether you should become an actor. Once you enter a doctoral program, the main problem isn’t necessarily that you can’t finish …” (more)

[Daniel McCormack, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 May]

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Trinity students don’t deserve our sympathy? Discuss …

Posted in Life on May 5th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Imagine we sat down to have a cup of tea together, and I made a number of statements that were tantamount to saying the following: ‘Working class people don’t deserve our sympathy’. You might be shocked. You might become angry. Both would be justified …” (more)

[Laura Kennedy, Irish Times, 5 May]


I work in a university. Here’s what I secretly want to tell senior management

Posted in Life on May 3rd, 2017 by steve

“The relationship between senior managers and university staff can be tricky, especially when academic and staff priorities clash with budgetary and policy requirements. Managers don’t always ask the right questions to find out how staff are feeling, and employees complain of a lack of consultation. So we asked a range of university staff to share their experiences of this complex relationship …” (more)

[Martin Williams, Guardian, 3 May]

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UCC student leaves thoughtful note and gift for hardworking library staff

Posted in Life on April 30th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Many students around the country are going mad for studying at the moment as they face into end-of-year exams next week – and UCC students have been filling the campus’s main library every day …” (more)

[Denise O’Donoghue,, 29 April]

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Figuring out the challenges of being a scientist and a mum

Posted in Life on April 24th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation to give a talk at an event about the challenges of being a woman working in the field of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem). However, not only am I a woman working in Stem, I’m also a parent working in Stem, and this event started at 6pm, clashing with a meeting at my child’s school …” (more)

[Jane Stout, Irish Times, 24 April]

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Study finds female professors outperform men in service – to their possible professional detriment

Posted in Life on April 17th, 2017 by steve

“Women shoulder a disproportionately large workload at home in ways that might disadvantage them professionally. But are female professors also ‘taking care of the academic family’ via disproportionate service loads? A new study says yes and adds to a growing body of research suggesting the same …” (more)

[Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 12 April]

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A business model for universities

Posted in Life on April 17th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The correspondents from NUI Galway (Letters, April 8th) raised the problem of precarious employment in the university particularly as it affects junior staff members. Your readers will also recently be aware of the discrimination in promotion against female staff members in the university …” (more)

[Brian Leonard, Irish Times, 17 April]


Appreciation: Prof Matthew F McCarthy

Posted in Life on April 17th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Prof Matthew F McCarthy, Emeritus Professor of mathematical physics in NUI Galway and former registrar, was an accomplished scientist with a strong sense of humanity. He was born in Cork on November 19th, 1938 to Daniel and Margaret McCarthy …” (more)

[Irish Times, 17 April]

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The pace of academic life is not the problem – the lack of autonomy is

Posted in Life on April 3rd, 2017 by steve

“To many disgruntled with the quantification of scholarship, its impossible demands and meaningless metrics, it is the heightened pace of academic life that is the problem. For Alison Edwards, the crux of the problem is actually a lack of autonomy. Is it time for academics to take back control? …” (more)

[Impact of Social Sciences, 3 April]


Is UCD doing enough for student parents?

Posted in Governance and administration, Life on April 1st, 2017 by steve

Ireland“While getting through university is a challenge for most students, few can imagine the difficulties faced by those who have to raise their own children while completing their studies. A third-level course is as demanding as a full-time job, except it costs money rather than providing it. On top of this, student-parents have to deal with the same childcare costs that overwhelm many dual-income households …” (more)

[Orla Keaveney, University Observer, 31 March]

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Generation Erasmus: ‘A very different view of Europe’

Posted in Life on April 1st, 2017 by steve

“One of the advantages of going on Erasmus is that you have flexibility in what you study – you can dabble in one or two things that aren’t necessarily related to your course …” (more)

[Mia Colleran, Irish Times, 30 March]

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‘This is going to affect my degree. I worked so hard’

Posted in Life on March 28th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A final-year student is extremely anxious that she may not get her degree if a halt is not called to the Bus Éireann strike soon …” (more)

[Independent, 28 March]

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What I’m really thinking: A working class student from the country

Posted in Life on March 24th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“When I was in Montessori school, my teacher sold me the ‘Disney’ line that I could be whatever I wanted to be and I believed her. I went home and did some digging in the back garden with my dad and decided I was going to do that for a living because it was fun …” (more)

[Stacey Wrenn, Trinity News, 23 March]

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‘Happiness in Higher Education’

Posted in Life on March 20th, 2017 by steve

Abstract: This paper investigates the higher education literature surrounding happiness and related notions: satisfaction, despair, flourishing and well-being. It finds that there is a real dearth of literature relating to profound happiness in higher education: much of the literature using the terms happiness and satisfaction interchangeably as if one were tantamount to the other, such conflation being due to the move towards consumerism within higher education and the marketisation of the sector. What literature there exists that actually deals with the profound happiness of students in higher education, generally argues that in the United Kingdom institutions do not currently do enough to promote happiness in higher education. These findings imply that flourishing, contentment and well-being should be regarded as legitimate goals of higher education, alongside satisfaction and related economic outcomes that are currently promoted across academic and policy literature, university rankings and the National Student Survey.

A Elwick and S Cannizzarro, ‘Happiness in Higher Education’, Higher Education Quarterly, First published online: 19 March 2017.

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Under-managed universities

Posted in Life on March 1st, 2017 by steve

“I have been having some interesting conversations with folks recently about ‘overwork’ in academia. It is clear to me that a lot of professors are absolutely frazzled. It is also clear to me that on average professors work hard – not necessarily because The Man is standing over them with a whip but because as a rule academics are professional and driven …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 1 March]

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