‘Philistine’ Government Hindering Irish Research, Says Fianna Fáil

Posted in Research on September 16th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Fianna Fáil has criticised Fine Gael’s ‘short-sighted and philistine’ approach to research funding in Ireland, after the country won just one of 400 grants from the European Research Council. Fianna Fáil spokesperson on science, technology, research and development James Lawless said the government’s approach is hindering research in Ireland …” (more)

[Sárán Fogarty, University Times, 16 September]

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Govt Short-Sightedness Causing Crisis in Research and Development

Posted in Research on September 15th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless, has said the short-sighted approach taken by Fine Gael in only funding research with expedient commercial outputs has greatly hampered the research and development ecosystem in Ireland …” (more)

[Fianna Fáil, 15 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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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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Mary O’Rourke: ‘Fund universities and colleges – for the sake of all our futures’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on August 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“August means so many different things to so many people. For those of a literary bent, one can point to the delicious long-ago novel by Edna O’Brien, August is a Wicked Month. Of course, to many it is the month of holidays, particularly schoolchildren who this week are facing the familiar feeling of going back to school after weeks of freedom …” (more)

[Independent, 25 August]

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Third Level Education Funding

Posted in Governance and administration on August 15th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for High Education, talks to Mary about third level education funding and the need for financial reform of the higher education sector …” (mp3)

[RTÉ – Drivetime, 15 August]

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Education Minister: Composition of Government makes it difficult to make fundamental changes to third level education

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on August 13th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Minister for Education Joe McHugh has defended the government’s delay in implementing the Cassells report saying that it is ‘very difficult to get business through parliament because of the weakness of this government’. ‘I think it will take a new composition government to bring a big fundamental change around this’, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland …” (more)

[Breakingnews.ie, 13 August]

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Provost: New Government Oversight a ‘Risk’ to University Autonomy

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

Ireland“Provost Patrick Prendergast has warned that new government legislation on higher education could jeopardise the autonomy of universities – a move he said could ‘damage’ the sector. In an interview with the Irish Times during a recent trip to Africa, Prendergast said universities highly value their independence …” (more)

[Donal MacNamee, University Times, 6 August]

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Department reluctant to cede power over higher education

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

Ireland“Born on the eve of 1971, myself and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Act are the same age. In the near five decades since, I have lost most of my hair, my waist has thickened, and I sometimes forget things. But I have reinvented myself many times, investing in my education and skills, moving from private to not-for-profit to public sector …” (more)

[Graham Love, Irish Times, 6 August]

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Minister for Health publishes new Bill to reform the Research Ethics landscape

Posted in Legal issues, Research on July 30th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today published the General Scheme of the National Research Ethics Committees Bill confirming plans to develop a streamlined, regulated and fit-for-purpose model for the ethical review of health research projects. The Bill will modernise the current system, will support more consistent and more efficient decisions for research studies and will mean better results for patients …” (more)

[Department of Health, 30 July]

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HEA welcomes the announcement by Minister Mitchell O’Connor in relation to reform of the HEA Act, 1971

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Higher Education Authority (HEA) welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, of the latest steps towards reform of legislation governing the HEA and its oversight of the higher education and research system …” (more)

[Malcolm Byrne, HEA, 25 July]

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Third-level institutions guilty of misconduct or poor performance risk funding

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Third-level institutions guilty of misconduct or poor performance could see grants withheld under the first proposed changes to the current legislation in almost 50 years. In an effort to reform the powers of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the proposed legislation could see the introduction of a range of sanctions and penalties for higher-level institutes in a bid to secure public accountability …” (more)

[Jess Casey, Irish Examiner, 25 July]

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Minister Mitchell O’Connor publishes and invites views on detailed legislative proposals and consultation report on reform of regulation of higher education

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 24th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Comprehensive reform of Higher Education Act, 1971 agreed by Government. Priority objectives under the proposed new legislation include: promote and safeguard the interests of students; maintain and enhance the reputation of the higher education sector; re-constitute Higher Education Authority (HEA) as Higher Education Commission with new statutory responsibilities, including regulation and oversight of private higher education bodies …” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 24 July]

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SIPTU says proposed reform legislation cannot ignore funding crisis in education

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 18th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“SIPTU representatives have today (Wednesday, 17th July) said that any proposed legislation to introduce greater regulation and reform to the governance of higher education cannot be used to divert attention away from the growing funding crisis facing the sector …” (more)

[SIPTU, 17 July]

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Third-level colleges face stringent new penalties for misconduct

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 17th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Third-level colleges face a series of stringent penalties for misconduct including having funding withheld under the biggest shake-up to regulation of higher education in almost 50 years. The measures, to be announced by the Government in the coming days, have sparked controversy within some universities who fear the planned moves will undermine their long-standing autonomy …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 17 July]

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RCSI set to get university status 235 years after it started training surgeons

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 12th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“More than 200 years after it started training surgeons, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is set to become a university following passage of reforming education legislation. The legislation increases the powers of the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) the agency which has responsibility for quality and qualifications in further and higher education …” (more)

[Marie O’Halloran, Irish Times, 11 July]

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Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018 Passes both Houses of the Oireachtas

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018 was today (Thursday, 11th of July) passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and will now be presented to the President for his signature. Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD said: ‘I am delighted to be able to say today that the Government has put in place protections for the staff and students of English language schools, with the passing of this Bill …'” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 11 July]

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President of NUIG Students’ Union issues appeal to homeowners following new short term letting legislation

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 3rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The President of the NUIG Students’ Union is appealing to homeowners in Galway to rent out rooms in a bid to deal with the ongoing crisis in student accommodation. The appeal follows the introduction of new regulations for short-term letting which came into force this week …” (more)

[Galway Bay FM, 2 July]

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Universities Legislation – Borrowing Framework

Posted in Governance and administration on June 21st, 2019 by steve

IrelandDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein): To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of borrowing, underwriting and guaranteeing activities notified to him under the borrowing framework provided for in section 38 of the Universities Act 1997 for each university since the institution of the framework in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter …” (more)

[Dáil written answers, 20 June]

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Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on June 16th, 2019 by steve

IrelandJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill relating to Quality and Qualifications Ireland, QQI. It is important to note one of the contexts in which this is relevant. There are only five or six countries in the world that are English speaking and the English language education market is a significant market in that regard. With the pending withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in some shape or form, Ireland is the principal English language speaking destination and therefore English language education destination in the European Union …” (more)

[Dáil debates, 13 June]

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