President Higgins and higher education

Posted in Teaching on June 10th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – This year, a pandemic year, more than 700 lecturers and teaching support staff were nominated by students and colleagues for the DCU President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. A close reading of the nominations indicated that this extraordinarily high level of satisfaction was not at all driven by grade inflation but by a genuine recognition by (mainly) students that lecturers and colleagues had gone the extra mile to ensure that our students received the best possible education under very difficult circumstances …” (more)

[Letters, Irish Times, 10 June]


Grade inflation undermining quality of university degrees, President Higgins warns

Posted in Governance and administration on June 9th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“The quality of university degrees is a source of great concern, with grade inflation that does not reflect improved standards of scholarship, President Michael D Higgins has warned. He was speaking at an online conference on academic freedom and intellectual dissent organised by Scholars at Risk – Ireland and the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 8 June]

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Students and SU Believe New Legislation ‘Not Enough’ to Protect Students’ Rental Rights

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on August 19th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins signed the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 into law on August 1st, ensuring tenants who are struggling to pay rent as a result of the pandemic remain protected. This legislation has been met with mixed opinions with Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin, one of many opponents to the act describing the measure as an ‘attack on renters’ …” (more)

[Oisín Magfhogartaigh, College Tribune, 18 August]

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Chief Medical Officer congratulates UL graduates following ‘remote’ conferring

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and President Michael D Higgins have sent messages of congratulations to over 130 new doctors who have graduated from the University of Limerick. The final year students at the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) are UL’s first ever cohort of students to be conferred remotely in absentia due to the Covid-19 crisis …” (more)

[David Hurley, Limerick Leader, 29 April]

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The Irish Times view: In praise of uselessness

Posted in Governance and administration on March 9th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“In the stories of Thomas the Tank Engine, the greatest compliment is to be called ‘very useful’. Engines have to prove their practical value on a daily basis and those who fail to do so are sent by the all-powerful Sir Topham Hatt to the scrap yard. It is exactly this sort of utilitarian propaganda that President Michael D Higgins railed against last week …” (more)

[Irish Times, 9 March]

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Universities do not exist ‘to produce students who are useful’, President says

Posted in Governance and administration on March 3rd, 2020 by steve

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins has warned that the capacity of universities to provide a ‘moral space’ for discussion is being eroded at a time of growing political populism. Mr Higgins, who was opening a celebration of Trinity College Dublin’s College Historical Debating Society, said ‘universities are not there merely to produce students who are useful’ …” (more)

[Jack Horgan-Jones, Irish Times, 2 March]

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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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President Higgins calls for higher education to equip students to deal with ‘crisis’ of climate change

Posted in Governance and administration on June 24th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins has called for students to be ‘equipped for the crisis we are in’ during the ‘struggle to mitigate climate change’ in a speech addressed to student organisations. The President made the statement at a garden party held in Áras an Uactaráin to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and the 75th anniversary of Macra na Feirme, a youth organisation for people from rural Ireland …” (more)

[Finn Purdy, Trinity News, 24 June]

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You don’t exist just ‘to be useful’, President tells young philosophers

Posted in Life on May 16th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Ireland needs to guard against a reengineering of the education system under the assumption that ‘we exist to be made useful’, President Michael D Higgins has said. Attending the Irish Young Philosopher Awards 2019 at UCD’s O’Reilly Hall, the President said …” (more)

[Joe Humphreys, Irish Times, 15 May]

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Making history compulsory may damage junior-cycle reform, review finds

Posted in Teaching on May 1st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Minister for Education Joe McHugh is set to be told by the State’s curriculum advisers that making history compulsory for junior-cycle students could undermine recent education reforms. Mr McHugh last year sought a review on whether history should be an optional subject in the junior cycle after concerns that some students would never learn about key moments in national history …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 1 May]

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Public servants now allowed work until they are 70

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

Ireland“Legislation that will allow public servants stay at work up to the age of 70 if they so choose has been signed into law by President Michael D Higgins. Previously, public servants had to retire by 65 at the latest, despite the fact that the age for qualifying for the State pension is 66 …” (more)

[RTÉ News, 26 December]

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New legislation to increase retirement age for public sector workers passed in Seanad

Posted in Governance and administration on December 21st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“There was some good news for public servants wishing to work longer as President Michael D Higgins is to sign a new law that will allow public sector workers work until the age of 70 …” (more)

[Christopher O’Brien,, 20 December]

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President appoints Joe McHugh as new Education Minister

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

Ireland“Donegal TD Joe McHugh has been appointed the new Minister for Education and Skills following a special ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday evening. Following a vote in the Dail chamber, President Michael D Higgins officially appointed the new Government ministers at a ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin …” (more)

[Diarmaid Doherty, Donegal Democrat, 17 October]

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DCU launch new €15 million student centre

Posted in Governance and administration on September 28th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Dublin City University (DCU) has launched a new student centre worth €15 million. The centre, known as the “U”, includes a student leadership and life skills centre, which is designed to aid students in developing essential life skills …” (more)

[Alex Letona, Trinity News, 28 September]

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President urges students to speak out about mental health issues

Posted in Governance and administration on September 27th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins has encouraged students to speak out about mental health issues and to be alert for signs that their friends might need professional support. Mr Higgins said any society that neglected mental health ‘loses a rich resource’ …” (more)

[Elaine Edwards, Irish Times, 27 September]

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A presidential view: university metrics and the rise of mediocrity?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 10th, 2018 by steve

“The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has not been reluctant to enter contentious debate during the course of his term of office to date. Most recently, at the launch of the Cambridge University Press History of Ireland, the President offered the following view on universities as comfortable hosts for academic studies …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 9 July]

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Why Irish universities are in thrall to neoliberalism

Posted in Governance and administration on June 20th, 2018 by steve

“In a remarkable speech delivered recently, as he joined academics and historians at the launch of the Cambridge History of Ireland, President Michael D Higgins spoke out against the market model of higher education. Taking unflinching aim at research ratings and rankings, the President criticised metrics as an ‘ideological fad’ of the university …” (more)

[Áine Mahon and Shane Bergin, Irish Times, 19 June]

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Higgins is right that history should be compulsory for Junior Cert

Posted in Teaching on May 7th, 2018 by steve

“After he became Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar was quick to hire historian Patrick Geoghegan to assist him in his new role. In the Dáil in June last year, Varadkar said: ‘I have hired somebody who is a professor of history. I have a great interest in history which I believe is the study of the future because few things have not happened previously …'” (more)

[Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish Times, 5 May]

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Minister Mitchell O’Connor passes into law the Technological Universities Act

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on March 21st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins signs the Technological Universities Bill. Minister Mitchell O’Connor said, ‘This is a transformative piece of legislation and I am delighted that it is now enacted. The Technological Universities legislation has been a high priority for this Government and will radically change the higher education landscape …'” (more)

[Department of Education and Skills, 21 March]

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President criticises ‘utilitarian approach to education’

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

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins has criticised what he has called ‘an impatient drive’ across the European Union for what he called ‘a misguidedly utilitarian approach to education’ … (more)

[RTÉ News, 16 November]