Trends in higher education

Posted in Teaching on February 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – James O’Sullivan raises some reasonable points about recent trends in higher education, notably an apparent emphasis on ‘skills’ (‘Universities have become like Ikea – just follow the instructions’, Education Opinion, February 7th). There is a suggestion in his column that these trends are driven by neoliberal politicians aided by armies of faceless administrators …” (more)

[Greg Foley, Irish Times, 12 February]

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The Civic University Symposium: Reimagining the University for Public Purpose: NUI Galway, Sat 2 December 2017

Posted in Governance and administration on November 18th, 2017 by steve

IrelandWhat is the purpose of higher education? Is higher education a public good – and if so, how do we understand the claim that this requires a private cost, and therefore a private gain? Is the knowledge produced by higher education a public good – and if so, how do we understand this in relation to the tendency to lock this knowledge behind paywalls demanded by private publishing companies … (more, registration)

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The University Is Not a Technology

Posted in Research on October 18th, 2017 by steve

“Andrew Piper and Chad Wellmon observe that a small subset of elite universities are disproportionately represented in the most prestigious journals in the literary humanities. This ‘epistemic inequality’, they write, ‘would surely be as undesirable as economic inequality. In fact, most of us would presume a relationship between the two’. No doubt they are closely related …” (more)

[Sam Fallon and Len Gutkin, Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 October]


Why Companies Value(d) Higher Education

Posted in Governance and administration on October 5th, 2017 by steve

“I recently read the book A Perfect Mess: the Unlikely Ascendancy of American Higher Education by David Larabee.  It’s very good – in fact, the first two chapters are for my money the best short history of pre-1900 American higher education ever written.  I’m going to refer to this book a few times over the next couple of weeks.  But today, I want to talk about an engaging little passage he penned about how business came to view college (that is, American ‘college’, our universities) as an indispensable pre-requisite to white collar jobs …” (more)

[HESA, 5 October]

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Why universities are being hollowed out

Posted in Governance and administration on September 27th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – As a lecturer happily retired from the University of Limerick, I can verify from painful experience everything noted by Sarah Alyn Stacey (September 16th). Let me press the argument further. Why should the ordinary citizen care about this? …” (more)

[Peter Labanyi, Irish Times, 27 September]

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Academics must take action to save colleges from market’s incursion

Posted in Governance and administration on September 20th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“In Flannery O’Connor’s 1955 short story Good Country People, a young woman named Hulga Hopewell holds a PhD in philosophy. Hulga is an expert on the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and she believes not in the importance of God but in the importance of nothing. Over the course of O’Connor’s story, however, the PhD doesn’t do much for Hulga’s critical capacities …” (more)

[Áine Mahon and Shane Bergin, Irish Times, 20 September]


Universities are being hollowed out

Posted in Governance and administration on September 16th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The recent conference held in Trinity College Dublin on academic freedom has shed invaluable light on the shifting identity of universities from liberal centres of learning in the service of the community to failing centres of economic interest in the service of capitalism …” (more)

[Sarah Alyn Stacey, Irish Times, 16 September]

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‘We are teaching too many students to do jobs that our society doesn’t need’

Posted in Governance and administration on August 14th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“We have every right to be angry with the many institutions that seem to be taking advantage of us all. Banks, insurance companies and real estate agencies to name but a few are well-known culprits, but nobody appears to be protesting with the same vigor about the biggest scam of all that is going on right under our noses: the scam of third level education …” (more)

[Chris Fitzgerald,, 14 August]

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What are universities for?

Posted in Governance and administration on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“So asked Diarmaid Ferriter recently in the Irish Times. It’s easy to dismiss a question like this as being too vague or too ‘philosophical’, the sort of ivory tower question that academics are prone to ask without ever providing any answers. But, in fact, this question goes to the heart of the entire debate around third level education …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 15 May]


President urges universities to return to ‘humanistic’ values

Posted in Governance and administration on April 11th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“‘Creativity’ is in great danger of misuse and at risk of being reduced to an ‘advertising slogan’, President Michael D Higgins has warned. Speaking at the opening of NUI Galway’s (NUIG) new O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, Mr Higgins has also appealed to universities to ‘re-dedicate themselves to originality of thought and a commitment to humanistic values in teaching’ …” (more)

[Lorna Siggins, Irish Times, 10 April]

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Hatred, Division and the University

Posted in Governance and administration on March 22nd, 2017 by steve

“Although I am not a citizen of The Netherlands, I am relieved that Geert Wilders will not be the next prime minister there. I found his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric reprehensible. Likewise, I hope that Marine Le Pen will fail in her election bid to become France’s next president …” (more)

[Liz Reisberg, Inside Higher Ed, 21 March]

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A University is not a Factory

Posted in Governance and administration on September 21st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“There has been a great deal of debate over the future of Irish universities over the past few weeks. The publication of the Cassels report, along with the plummeting of almost all Irish universities down the QS rankings, has pushed the issue of third education in Ireland into the limelight …” (more)

[Michael Foley, Trinity News, 21 September]

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Universities also have to ask themselves a few questions about their slide in rankings

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on September 8th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The sizeable falls in world university rankings of practically all Irish universities is adding to the pressure on the Government to take some action on third-level funding. The current model is broken …” (more)

[Richard Curran, Independent, 8 September]

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Third-level education in crisis

Posted in Governance and administration on September 8th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – I wish to express my concern and disappointment at the failure to date to address and to help resolve the crisis in the funding of Irish universities. The significant falls in the ranking of our best universities in the QS ranking of world universities highlight the impact funding cuts have had …” (more)

[Letters, Irish Times, 8 September]

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Why Society Needs Historians

Posted in Research on June 7th, 2016 by steve

UK“… Johnston, it must be remembered, was an oncologist before going into university leadership, so he’s one of the Good Guys. He deserves our respect. But this doesn’t stop this being stupid, philistine, nonsense …” (more)

[Jonathan Healey, The Social Historian, 4 June]

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In an Underfunded Sector, We Cannot Let Financial Interests Dictate Academia

Posted in Governance and administration on June 6th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Comments made by the vice-chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Patrick Johnston, earlier this week sparked passionate backlash from academics and those interested in the preservation of a university’s mission of academia …” (more)

[University Times, 5 June]

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Massification Causes Stratification

Posted in Governance and administration on May 5th, 2016 by steve

Canada“Once upon a time, higher education was small. Really small. Only a very few people could enter it, and the value of a degree was enormous. Not just in terms of skills/knowledge acquired, or the credential, but also social status …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 5 May]

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Role of the universities

Posted in Teaching on April 25th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The success of Ireland’s second-level education system used to lie in its capacity for turning out broadly and soundly educated students. Now, however, Colin Walsh (April 15th) would like university humanities students to study differential equations, and university engineering students to learn about the German Enlightenment …” (more)

[Anthony Quinn, Irish Times, 25 April]


The role of universities

Posted in Governance and administration on April 15th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – When universities bow to pressure from industry to produce less learned but more skilled graduates, they do students a disservice. Degrees take at least three or four years to complete; there is sufficient time to teach skills useful to the workplace and also to expose students to ideas from other disciplines that might help them to develop insight, perspective and critical thinking …” (more)

[Colin Walsh, Irish Times, 15 April]

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President Higgins: Universities facing ‘intellectual crisis’

Posted in Governance and administration on April 8th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Universities are under increasing pressure to produce graduates solely for the labour market and face an ‘intellectual crisis’ over their role in society, President Michael D Higgins has said. Speaking at the annual conference of the European Universities Association in NUI Galway, Mr Higgins said higher education has a crucial role to play in laying the foundations of a society that is more inclusive, participatory and equal …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 8 April]

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