‘Ireland’s universities do not exist to allow academics a good life’

Posted in Governance and administration on October 6th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“In the public sector, there is only ever one solution to problems, and that is to call for more funding. Sadly, Irish universities are no different. Two stories last week illustrate the tendency. The first revealed that Trinity College in Dublin is considering reducing the number of Irish students who can attend in future unless the Government provides more resources …” (more)

[Eilis O’Hanlon, Independent, 6 October]

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Higgins critical of universities’ focus on markets

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

Ireland“The president, Michael D Higgins, has criticised ‘many universities’ who he says now produce graduates who are ‘professionals’ rather than ‘critically engaged citizens’. In a speech at Fordham University in New York Mr Higgins accused universities of abandoning their ‘traditional role’ of preparing students to be ‘thoughtful, conscientious, active citizens’ …” (more)

[Emma O Kelly, RTÉ News, 30 September]

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Fund universities properly – but to produce scholars, not just workers

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

Ireland“In her recent article for the Sunday Independent, former education minister Mary O’Rourke makes a passionate plea for adequate funding of Ireland’s institutions of higher learning. Much as anyone working in higher education in this country will welcome the former minister’s public support, her reasoning is profoundly flawed …” (more)

[Philipp W Rosemann, Independent, 1 September]

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Student Literacy, The Function of University, Truth about Poor Degrees

Posted in Teaching on March 1st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“There were two alarming pieces about decline in university standards in the The Irish Times recently. The paper did not facilitate readers’ comments but here are some brief points that the articles ignored …” (more)

[Colum McCaffery’s Weblog, 28 February]

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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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The value of higher education

Posted in Governance and administration on September 17th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Laura Kennedy asks, ‘What value is a university education?’. The answer is clearly outlined in the OECD Education at a Glance 2018 Report just published this week. The OECD confirms that 25- to 64-year-old workers in Ireland with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent earn 67% more than those with secondary education only …” (more)

[Jim Miley, Irish Times, 17 September]

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Should a university aim to be a for-profit institution?

Posted in Governance and administration on September 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“‘This strategic plan sets out to secure Trinity’s future so that it will continue to play its pivotal role in helping Ireland to become a most productive place in which to invent, work and learn and a most civilised place in which to live and contribute to local and global society.’ This statement, set out in Trinity’s published Strategic Plan for the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, lays out the ideals of the university and thereby its commitment to uphold its educational promise to its students …” (more)

[Niamh Meyer, Trinity News, 11 September]

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Have college degrees lost their relevance?

Posted in Life on September 4th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“College is seen as a rite of passage for many people. Another ‘check’ on your life to-do list. Go to school, get good grades, work hard, pass your exams, get into a good course, complete your degree, find a job, live happily ever after. We know the drill. As students all over Ireland accept their CAO choices and scramble to find affordable accommodation is now the right time to ask if it’s all worth it?…” (more)

[Alice Murray, Independent, 3 September]

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Sexual consent among Irish students

Posted in Teaching on August 10th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The recent NUIG study on sexual consent among Irish students (‘Majority of students do not think 12 pints makes a person unable to give consent’, August 7th) certainly paints a depressing picture, for which some kind of response is warranted …” (more)

[Lennon O’Naraigh, Irish Times, 10 August]

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Education for Leisure?

Posted in Teaching on August 9th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sometime during the summer, about the time we were crossing the plains of Sto Helit on our way to the Ramtops for our summer vacation a memory passed through my mind. There is something about the M4 on a quiet sunny day that leads you to day dream. It can be dangerous, not least of all because you can lose concentration on the act of driving but mostly because you can have irrational memories. And I did …” (more)

[Foreseeing Academicals, 8 August]


The curious case of the higher education crisis

Posted in Governance and administration on July 26th, 2018 by steve

“I’m down in Cork to visit two of my Biotech students who are on their nine-month work placement in Eli Lilly. This will be my last of our so-called INTRA visits. I’ve also been to Medtronic in Galway, Abbott in Longford, Abbott in Sligo and Leo Pharma in Crumlin. So far, our students have been getting glowing reports. So when somebody, or some organisation, makes a statement to the effect that our higher education system is ‘in crisis’, I’m a bit confused …” (more)

[Greg Foley, The Optimistic Educator, 25 July]

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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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Academic warns against using third-level only for workforce

Posted in Governance and administration on April 12th, 2018 by steve

“The treatment of third-level education just as a way to build the country’s workforce could prove costly in the long run, an Irish-based international academic has warned. Professor Carl Anders Säfström from Maynooth University Social Science Institute (MUSSI) said attempts to cater higher education in Ireland towards industry’s labour needs have often come at the expense of the humanities, because precedence is given to STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 12 April]


University challenge

Posted in Teaching on March 15th, 2018 by steve

“Sir, – Unfortunately I never studied for an arts degree in UCD, and up to yesterday I thought I had muddled along reasonably well. However, upon reading Lindsey Earner-Byrne’s letter (March 14th) responding to David McWilliams’s article ‘Third-level education is yesterday’s idea’ (Opinion, March 10th), I am now advised that I am unable to ‘think critically’ …” (more)

[John Levins, Irish Times, 15 March]


Third-level education – yesterday’s idea?

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

Ireland“Sir, – David McWilliams, in ‘Third-level education is yesterday’s idea’ (Opinion, March 10th), makes some interesting points, in particular about the impact of the printing press and the pressure placed on today’s teenagers, but his article is based on a misunderstanding of what someone can get from a third-level education …” (more)

[Letters, Irish Times, 14 March]


Third-level education is yesterday’s idea

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

Ireland“Our family is not good at filling out forms. It’s just not our thing. Life would be easier if we had an enthusiastic stenographer in the tribe – someone who loves a form and a deadline – but such a creature doesn’t exist in our immediate bloodline …” (more)

[David McWilliams, 13 March]


Is Third-Level Education worth it? Maybe not – says David McWilliams

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on March 12th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“It won’t come as any surprise to readers of this blog that I would not be in full agreement with David McWilliams who wrote in Saturday’s Irish Times that ‘Third-level education is yesterday’s idea’ …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 12 March]

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Higher education: what is it good for?

Posted in Governance and administration on March 8th, 2018 by steve

“Why go to university? When asked, today’s students are openly careerist and materialist. In a 2012 survey by the Higher Education Research Institute in Los Angeles, almost 90% held that ‘being able to get a better job’ was a ‘very important’ or ‘essential’ reason to go to college. The rationales of being ‘very well-off financially’ and ‘making more money’ were almost as popular …” (more)

[Bryan Caplan, Times Higher Education, 8 March]


Parents warned of obsession with sending children to university

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on February 24th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sir Ken Robinson came to worldwide prominence when he argued that schools were killing creativity and failing to recognise the diversity of children’s intelligence. His 2006 Ted talk on the topic holds the record for the most watched talk online with more than 50 million views so far …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 23 February]

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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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