Limerick IT president challenges the ‘current blueprint’ for third level education

Posted in Governance and administration on October 31st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The President of the Limerick Institute of Technology has challenged the current blueprint for third level education, as he revealed that 95% of last year’s LIT graduating class either went directly into employment or on further study. At the opening 2018 conferring ceremony in the LIT Moylish Campus this Wednesday, Professor Vincent Cunnane questioned whether the Government’s Hunt Report, first published in 2011, was still relevant for the sector and the challenges it now faces …” (more)

[Jess Casey, Limerick Leader, 31 October]

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Abolition of institutes of technology is an act of senseless violence

Posted in Governance and administration on January 29th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“We are living in the final days of the Irish institutes of technology (IoTs). It looks increasingly likely that the Technological Universities Bill will escape from the Oireachtas to the President’s pen. Ten of the fourteen institutes are expected to merge into four new technological universities. By doing so they will bring the curtain down on institutes that have done tremendous good in Irish society since they came into being 48 years ago …” (more)

[Ray Griffin, Irish Times, 29 January]

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Waterford and Carlow, and the strange tale of a proposed ‘technical university’

Posted in Governance and administration on October 20th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“For the past decade or so it has been completely impossible to travel to the South-East of Ireland without someone mercilessly bending your ear about the need for Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to be granted university status …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 19 October]

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We need to talk about the future of third level

Posted in Governance and administration on May 26th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The higher education system has become a pivotal institution in contemporary Irish society. Increasing expectations of its contribution to personal growth and career enhancement, and to the economic development of society, have led to greatly increased participation rates …” (more)

[Patrick Clancy, Irish Times, 26 May]

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Time to challenge the ‘myth of austerity’ – IFUT President, Rose Malone

Posted in Governance and administration on May 9th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“IFUT sees the funding of the universities as a fundamental issue of social justice and educational equity, Rose Malone stated in her Presidential Address to the Conference of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), in Dublin …” (more)

[Irish Federation of University Teachers, 9 May]

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IT mergers – why?

Posted in Governance and administration on October 30th, 2014 by steve

IrelandGreg Foley makes an excellent observation in relation to IT mergers generally, and the Carlow-WIT merger in particular – ‘It would be interesting to hear the rationale for all of this’.

It would indeed, especially as none has been given to date. The Hunt Report makes a few general points in favour of these mergers: that larger institutions can provide better services and take advantage of economies of scale (8.2); that ‘over the next twenty years, smaller stand-alone institutions will lack the scale required to deliver the necessary advances in quality and efficiency’ (8.5); and that merely designating existing institutions as universities achieves relatively little (8.7) – though since the government are currently passing legislation doing precisely that in relation to the RCSI, we might question whether they really believe what the report says.

All this is true, if very unspecific. But the Hunt report also gives various alternative mechanisms for achieving the same benefits, particularly regional clusters (8.4) and general collaboration between existing institutions (8.6). In addition, it lists other policy objectives that would inevitably be subverted by the creation of larger merged entities: flexibility (9.2), responsiveness to local needs (5.3), and diversity of mission (8.3). We could also add that seeing institutional change as the answer to every problem is a frequent managerial vice, and at the very least we should appreciate it if alternatives were considered.

How all of this is to be applied in particular instances is not spelled out. It may be that IT Carlow (or IT Blanchardstown, or IT Tralee, or …) is such a small institution that it is not viable in the long-run – but no public case to that effect has been made. Even if true, it is certainly not obvious that this should be allowed to prejudice the position of significantly larger institutions such as WIT (or DIT, or CIT, or …) – either we believe in diversity of mission or we don’t. Even if IT Carlow’s size is a problem, it’s not obvious that it is WIT’s to solve.

The point is that no public reasoned case has been made out for any of this – we simply see the minister lecturing IT heads about the need to stick to the rules, while saying nothing to make us think the rules are good ones. If there is a rationale for this blanket policy – no technological university without prior merger – then it hasn’t been given.


The Blogmeister

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USI President: Registration Fee Hike a Further Disappointment from the Government

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 16th, 2014 by steve

“Speaking to The University Times, Laura Harmon discusses fees, the accommodation crisis and the year ahead. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has described the cost of college registration fees as ‘outrageous’ …” (more)

[Louise Duffy and Fiona Gribben, University Times, 16 August]

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Closure of All Hallows is a loss to third-level education as well as to church

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on May 31st, 2014 by steve

“Paddy McNamara, now deceased, left formal education at primary level and did his Leaving Cert after retirement. He then studied for a BA, and at 80 became the oldest graduate ever from both All Hallows and DCU …” (more)

[Breda O’Brien, Irish Times, 31 May]

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An Institute of Technology lecturer says Technological Universities are a bad idea and will fail

Posted in Governance and administration on May 13th, 2014 by steve

“It is hard to see how the planned technological universities will either create more jobs or garner more research funding, as their advocates suggest. It is also hard to see how they will be anything other than a re-branding exercise …” (more)

[Irish Times, 13 May]

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Institutes or tech unis?

Posted in Governance and administration on February 15th, 2014 by steve

“The prospect of re-designating institutes of technology as technological universities has stirred a sense of deja vu among some academics. Ireland’s higher-education sector has a history of branding issues …” (more)

[Cian Traynor, Irish Times, 15 February]

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Creating ‘Technological Universities’ in Ireland

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on January 22nd, 2014 by steve

“The Irish government has published the Technological Universities Bill 2014, and thereby proposes to re-cast the Irish higher education sector. This is part of a new framework which was heralded in the Hunt Report in 2011 …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 22 January]

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Minister Quinn publishes General Scheme of Technological Universities Bill

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on January 22nd, 2014 by steve

“The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, has today announced the publication of the Heads of a Bill which will allow for the future establishment of Technological Universities and the mergers of institutes of technology …” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 22 January]

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Student Support Schemes Issues – Student Loans

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 27th, 2013 by steve

Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider introducing a State funded third level student loan system where students can borrow money for their education and repay the State from future earnings …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 24 September]

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Subverting Irish university autonomy

Posted in Governance and administration on September 24th, 2013 by steve

“… And now, with remarkably little public attention regarding the implications, the government has announced its intention of introducing in 2014 a new piece of legislation in the form of a Universities (Amendment) Bill …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 September]

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CIT nearer to university status

Posted in Governance and administration on June 6th, 2013 by steve

“Cork Institute of Technology is one step nearer to gaining technology university status following the report of the Higher Education Authority recommendation to merge with Tralee Institute of Technology …” (more)

[Peter Horgan, Cork Independent, 6 June]

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Minister Quinn sanctions major re-organisation of higher education

Posted in Governance and administration on May 30th, 2013 by steve

“The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, has today announced a major re-organisation of the country’s higher education sector that includes provision for the creation of new Technological Universities. This announcement follows recommendations made by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to Minister Quinn …” (more, download)

[Department of Education and Skills, 30 May]

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To fix third level, we need to ask the right questions

Posted in Governance and administration on February 19th, 2013 by steve

“We are obsessed with the structure of our higher eduction system but other areas need reform first. Here’s a little puzzle. If Waterford Institute of Technology is not fit to be a university on its own, why does it become fit if you add a second college, Carlow IT, which is manifestly not as good an institution? …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Irish Times, 19 February]

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DCU chief calls for digital learning strategy

Posted in Teaching on February 11th, 2013 by steve

“Ireland risks being left behind in the ‘online education revolution’, according to the president of Dublin City University. Prof Brian MacCraith has made the case for a new ‘digital learning strategy’ as the world’s universities embrace new technologies …” (more)

[Seán Flynn, Irish Times, 11 February]

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Leave the Irish sector alone to get on with the task of renewal

Posted in Governance and administration on January 24th, 2013 by steve

“The state and its agencies must stop their constant interference with a national success story, argues Ferdinand von Prondzynski …” (more)

[Times Higher Education, 24 January]

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Reconfiguring the landscape

Posted in Governance and administration on January 24th, 2013 by steve

“… Yet from the oldest to the most forward-facing, Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology are all being shaken by a major reform programme that is likely to affect every institution, with many ceasing to exist in their present form …” (more)

[Matthew Reisz, Times Higher Education, 24 January]

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