And again: what is higher education actually for?

Posted in Governance and administration on March 1st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“There is a wonderful caricature of higher education, Microcosmographia Academica, which was written in 1908 by the Cambridge classicist Francis Macdonald Cornford. In this, with his tongue somewhat in cheek, he offered advice to the aspiring young academic. Much of it will not seem dated to contemporary readers …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 28 February]

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Bullying in universities

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

Ireland“Most universities make a genuine effort to maintain a culture and atmosphere in which people – students and staff – can thrive and in which intellectual debate and challenge is encouraged in a setting of personal respect. Most students, staff and faculty also do their utmost to maintain this culture …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 19 February]

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Free speech in universities: a new guide for England and Wales

Posted in Governance and administration on February 5th, 2019 by steve

“As readers of this blog know, the issue of freedom of expression in universities has frequently been in the news over recent years. It has been alleged repeatedly that university communities have become bad at ensuring that a variety of views on controversial topics can be expressed without hindrance, for example views that support conservative politics, or certain arguments regarding transgender matters …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 5 February]

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The rise of the ‘smart university’?

Posted in Teaching on January 15th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A few years ago for this blog, I interviewed the then Irish Minister for Education and Science, Ruairi Quinn. He was one of those relatively rare examples of an education minister with a real understanding of and sympathy for higher education, and indeed a set of civilised and cultured values …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 15 January]

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What next for universities?

Posted in Governance and administration on January 8th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“From 1978 to 2018 – in other words, for 40 years – I worked for universities. Throughout these years universities seemed to experience both great advances and great crises. Student numbers grew exponentially, as it became public policy to make higher education much more inclusive. Research budgets became significant as indicators of excellence. Whole regions were transformed by university growth in their midst …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 8 January]

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Understanding student loneliness

Posted in Life on December 4th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Some years ago, when I was President of Dublin City University, I decided to take a little time on Christmas Day to offer coffee and light Christmas snacks to students staying in the university halls of residence over the holiday period. A good number turned up …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 4 December]

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A question of money

Posted in Governance and administration on November 20th, 2018 by steve

“For a few years now there has been a steady stream of predictions that one or more English universities would face bankruptcy, or at any rate life-threatening financial difficulties. Most recently this month it was suggested that at least three universities are at risk. In what is an increasingly marketised system, the question this has thrown up is whether, in the event of such a crisis, the government or its agencies would throw a lifeline …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 20 November]

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Universities and the leadership riddle

Posted in Governance and administration on November 6th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“For 18 years, between 2000 and 2018, I held the leadership position in two universities. During that time I was interviewed several times by journalists and student reporters, and the one question I always found particularly difficult to answer was this: what was my ‘leadership style’? …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 6 November]

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Work-based learning and higher education diversity

Posted in Teaching on October 9th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“In 2011 the Higher Education Academy in the UK published An Introduction to Work-Based Learning. This was not so much an analysis, but more a guide to assist institutions wanting to introduce such learning methods. The document based its definition of work-based learning on a previous study …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 8 October]

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Representatives of a long-past era?

Posted in Governance and administration on September 25th, 2018 by steve

“For those readers not already familiar with him, let me introduce Professor Trevor McMillan. Professor McMillan is the Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, which he has led since 2015. But my interest in him here is prompted by his role as ‘framework champion’ of the soon-to-be introduced Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and as chair of the Framework Steering Group …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 September]

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Protecting our honour

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“I’m about to make up a number here, but just work with me. Across the world in 2017, some 200,000 people were awarded honorary doctorates. A significant proportion these awards were handed to eminent academics, often at or near retirement, whose work was of real intellectual significance and produced wider benefits. Some were awarded to prominent people who showed their support for higher education activities and values. Some … – well some, you just don’t know why they got them …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 10 September]

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The academic life – student emails

Posted in Life on August 28th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“When I began any lecturing career in 1980, in the days before the internet or even mobile phones, it would have been totally impossible for a student to reach me outside of normal working hours. By the time my active teaching came to an end (in 2000), I was beginning to get both emails and phone calls into the night …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 27 August]

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Former DCU president steps down from Scottish university role amid controversy

Posted in Governance and administration on August 14th, 2018 by steve

“The former president of Dublin City University (DCU), Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, is stepping down from his position as principal of Scotland’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) after a conflict of interest controversy …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 14 August]

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Inquiry call in Robert Gordon University ‘cronyism’ row

Posted in Governance and administration on August 11th, 2018 by steve

“A union has called on the Scottish Funding Council to investigate the appointment of Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) new principal. Prof John Harper was chosen to lead the Aberdeen university after the departure of Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski …” (more)

[BBC News, 11 August]

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Former DCU president at centre of conflict-of-interest row in Scottish university

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 25th, 2018 by steve

“The former president of Dublin City University is at the centre of conflict-of-interest row at a Scottish university after his business partner was appointed to a top role at the institution. Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, who is the principal of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, is director of a company involved in the ownership of a €13-million castle in Ireland which was put up for sale at the end of last year …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 24 July]

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A presidential view: university metrics and the rise of mediocrity?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 10th, 2018 by steve

“The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has not been reluctant to enter contentious debate during the course of his term of office to date. Most recently, at the launch of the Cambridge University Press History of Ireland, the President offered the following view on universities as comfortable hosts for academic studies …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 9 July]

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Call the doctor

Posted in Governance and administration on June 19th, 2018 by steve

“In the circles in which I once moved when I was still an active law lecturer, one of the regular questions colleagues from the United States of America would ask is whether, with a JD degree (‘Juris Doctor’), they were entitled to style themselves ‘Dr’. This often led to long discussions about how academic qualifications should be used by their holders to declare their status. I was awarded my own PhD in 1982 …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 18 June]

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Brexit and higher education – the Irish question resolved?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on June 12th, 2018 by steve

“Intractable discussions about how to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland may be continuing, but one element of the relationship between Ireland and the UK post-Brexit appears to be capable of a positive resolution …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 11 June]

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What do you want from your university? Skills, knowledge? Or just a degree?

Posted in Teaching on May 15th, 2018 by steve

“There is no shortage of studies suggesting that university graduates benefit significantly from their qualification as they progress through their careers. In 2015 it was suggested that the value of a university degree could be as much as £500,000 over a lifetime. If this is true, it is still not really clear what exactly confers this additional cash benefit: the knowledge acquired during studies? The skills, vocation-specific or transferable? Or is it maybe just the actual degree certificate, as an entry qualification into higher-paying jobs? …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 14 May]

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Do academic disciplines engage society?

Posted in Research on May 1st, 2018 by steve

“At a reception I once attended a senior public servant offered the following comment to me: ‘You guys [and I think he meant academics] are so caught up in your abstract studies and disciplines that you can’t really say anything useful to the rest of us.’ Well, of course I didn’t agree with him, but whether his comment had any merit isn’t my point here …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 1 May]

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