Irish universities tread water while rivals make waves

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The flaws with college rankings are well documented. They are produced by commercial organisations which sell their expertise on how to perform better. They ignore key aspects of college life such as the quality of teaching and learning. And the science behind some of the indicators is suspect, at best. But there is no denying their influence …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 11 September]

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Trinity College calls for university rankings strategy after falling 44 places in worldwide list

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Trinity College Dublin has called for a ‘national strategy for university rankings’ after dropping 44 places in the World University Rankings today. The university is now rated as 164th best in the world in the Times Higher Education list compared with 120th last year …” (more)

[TheJournal.ie, 11 September]

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Former UCD halls of residence at Hatch Hall to be transformed into boutique hotel

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A landmark south Dublin Victorian building once used to house asylum seekers is to be converted into a boutique hotel. Hatch Hall on Hatch Street in Dublin 2, will be transformed into a five-star resort after Red Carnation Hotels bought the building for over €20 million …” (more)

[Rory Lynskey, DublinLive, 11 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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Students struggling to find accommodation as cost continues to rise

Posted in Life on September 7th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“College students are being distracted from their education by looking for accommodation. Many students are still trying to find somewhere to live for this academic year. It comes as every college in the country has hiked its student living fees …” (more)

[Irish Examiner, 6 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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State approves €100m for higher education building projects

Posted in Governance and administration on August 30th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The State has approved €100m for five large higher education building projects. The funding is part of ongoing investment in the sector through Project Ireland 2040 and a fund known as the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund (HESIF) …” (more)

[Emma O Kelly, RTÉ News, 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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Third-level students facing expensive, long commutes as rents rise

Posted in Life on August 17th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“When Adrasteia Hughes accepted her offer of a place studying sociology and linguistics at UCD, she had no idea of just how draining the daily commute would be. She spends up to four hours each day on buses and trains in rush-hour traffic to get from her home in Co Kildare to the campus at Belfield and back again …” (more)

[Lynn Rusk and Jade Wilson, Irish Times, 17 August]

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UCD SU say competition for college places at ‘alarming level’ as points exceed 600

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 16th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“UCD students’ union has claimed the competition for higher education has now reached an ‘alarming level’ as entry requirements for a course at the university exceeded 600 points for the first time ever. The minimum entry requirements for economics and finance at University College Dublin (UCD) surpassed 600 points, attracting a cut-off of 601 points …” (more)

[Jess Casey, Irish Examiner, 16 August]

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UCD Had More Preliminary First-Preference Applications than Trinity

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 15th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“University College Dublin (UCD) had a higher rate of first-preference applications than Trinity from the CAO’s preliminary stages this year, The University Times has learned. At a meeting of University Council earlier this year, Provost Patrick Prendergast reportedly asked why UCD had a higher rate of first-preference applications than Trinity …” (more)

[Donal MacNamee, University Times, 15 August]

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UCD made nearly €28 million in student accommodation rent in 2017

Posted in Governance and administration on August 9th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“University College Dublin made €27.5 million in rental income from student accommodation in 2017. This is nearly over €10.3 million more than the college made in 2014 …” (more)

[Aakanksha Surve, DublinLive, 9 August]

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Top of the range: €11,591 cost of staying in priciest student accommodation

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

Ireland“Ireland goes to UCD’s Roebuck Castle. Priced at a cool €11,591 for the 2019-2020 academic year, it is by far the costliest college accommodation provided by an Irish university …” (more)

[Gabija Gataveckaite, Independent, 8 August]

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UCD’s SU can no longer confirm the availability of cost free PrEP

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

Ireland“Talks to provide UCD students with free pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are still ongoing, despite confirmation of cost-free availability of the drug on July 1st. A press statement released on Monday July 1st by UCD Student Union announced that PrEP medication would be available from the UCD on-campus pharmacy, free of cost to any student with a prescription, come September …” (more)

[Sally Madden, The College View, 7 July]

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John Henry Newman to be canonised in October

Posted in Governance and administration on July 2nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“John Henry Newman, the theologian, educational reformer and founder of University College Dublin (UCD), is to be canonised on Sunday, October 13th, the Vatican has announced. Pope Francis formally approved Newman’s elevation to sainthood at a consistory of cardinals on Monday …” (more)

[Emer Moreau, Irish Times, 1 July]

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UCD to Offer Free PrEP Medication to Students

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

Ireland“University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) today announced that Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication – which significantly reduces the risk of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – will be available free of charge on UCD’s campus from September 2019 …” (more)

[Aoife Kearins, University Times, 1 July]

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UCD founder Cardinal John Henry Newman to be made a saint in October

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on July 1st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“UCD founder Cardinal John Henry Newman will be made a saint later this year. The Vatican has announced that Cardinal Newman will be canonised on October 13. The move was formally approved by Pope Francis at a Consistory of cardinals on Monday, the Catholic Herald reports …” (more)

[Aakanksha Surve, Dublin Live, 1 July]

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IMI and UCD Smurfit School among top 50 for executive education

Posted in Governance and administration on June 3rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Irish Management Institute (IMI) and the UCD Smurfit Executive Development Centre have both been ranked among the best business schools globally. This is according to the 2019 Financial Times executive education rankings, which assess business schools across a number of criteria, including course quality, faculty, facilities and diversity …” (more)

[Charlie Taylor, Irish Times, 3 June]

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State exams commission and Minister win limited appeal against Carter judgment

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

Ireland“The State Examinations Commission (SEC) and the Minister for Education and Skills have succeeded in their limited appeals against parts of a High Court decision allowing student Rebecca Carter to take up a place at veterinary medicine at UCD …” (more)

[Aodhan O’Faolain, Irish Times, 29 May]

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