Students allegedly given sponge sheets for beds and told they can only cook instant noodles while renting Dublin city centre ‘apartment’ hidden in tiny industrial unit

Posted in Life on August 29th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Four Malaysian students are locked in a bitter deposit dispute after leaving what might be Dublin’s most shocking rented accommodation. Unbelievable photos show what appears to be a small industrial lot that has now been converted into an ‘apartment’ in the capital’s city centre …” (more)

[Gavin O’Callaghan, DublinLive, 29 August]

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Minister Mitchell O’Connor opens the inaugural REACT [Responding to Excessive Consumption of Alcohol in Third Level] awards in DCU

Posted in Governance and administration on August 29th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD today, 28 August, visited DCU and presented the students and staff in 10 of Ireland’s 3rd level institutions with awards in recognition of their efforts to reduce harm experienced by students from excess use of alcohol. The Minister said: …” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 28 August]

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Major drop in points for top courses on CAO second round

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 29th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The second round of college offers brought good news for 2,513 CAO applicants, with many receiving a place on their top-choice course. No new offers were made for the majority of courses, but there was plenty to celebrate with significant points drops on some hotly contested programmes. Among the Level 8 (honours degree) disciplines with the most new offers were arts (219), health (239), social and behavioural sciences (169), business (159), engineering (145) and nursing (132) …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 29 August]

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Maynooth seminary is facing the future

Posted in Governance and administration on August 29th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – In an article in The Irish Times, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin posed a question for St Patrick’s College, Maynooth: ‘What role does it play in the overall intellectual ethos of the country?’ (Patsy McGarry, ‘Maynooth seminary “trapped in an old vision”, says Archbishop of Dublin’, News, August 27th). We are happy to have this opportunity to respond …” (more)

[Declan Marmion, Irish Times, 29 August]

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Student accommodation development soars but new investments set to slow

Posted in Governance and administration on August 29th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The purpose-built student accommodation market has seen continued growth in both development and investment activity over the 12 months to the end of June. According to a report by Cushman & Wakefield, a total of 2,133 PBSA bed spaces have completed construction during the period bringing total standing stock in Dublin to 13,476 bed spaces …” (more)

[Donal Buckley, Independent, 29 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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