Two Years in Maynooth!

Posted in Life on December 1st, 2019 by steve

IrelandMí na Nollag (the Month of Christmas) is how you say December in the Irish language. Today is the first of that month, which it makes it precisely two years to the day since I started work at Maynooth University …” (more)

[In the Dark, 1 December]

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On Zero-Hours Contracts

Posted in Governance and administration on October 20th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“In a week dominated by stupid things being said by British politicians, one of the stupidest of all was the claim by Labour MP Caroline Flint that the European Union is to blame for the rise of zero-hours contracts. Caroline Flint is a Brexit supporter, of course, so she will not be interested in facts …” (more)

[In the Dark, 20 October]

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European alliance for academics at risk to be based out of Maynooth University

Posted in Governance and administration on October 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A new European initiative to support hundreds of academics whose lives or careers are at risk due to discrimination, persecution or violence is to be based out of Maynooth University. A record number of academics are seeking support, such as teaching temporary posts, due threats against their lives or careers in countries such as Turkey, Syria, Iran and Yemen …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 14 October]

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Public Accounts Committee: Maynooth University

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on October 5th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“… No 2354B is from Professor Phillip Nolan, President, Maynooth University, dated 29 July 2019, responding to a request from the committee for details on an investment by the university in a subsidiary which will not be recovered, as well as information regarding employment contracts for employees in the organisation. Professor Nolan confirms the loss and states the investment was appropriate based on the information and advice available at the time …” (more)

[Public Accounts Committee, 3 October]

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Maoiniú do Chursaí Gaeilge de Luach €1.63 Milliún Fógartha ag Sean Kyne

Posted in Teaching on October 2nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“D’fhógair an tAire Stáit don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht, agus do na hOileáin, Sean Kyne, go gcuirfear maoiniú €1.63 milliún ar fáil do chursaí tríú-leibhéil Gaeilge ar an Luan. Thuairiscigh Tuairisc.ie go dtabharfar tacaíocht do 12 chúrsa Gaeilge i gcoláistí timpeall na tíre …” (more)

[Malachi Ó Marcaigh, University Times, 2 October]

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Irish language courses in higher education receive €1.6 million support

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

Ireland“Nine Irish language courses and institutes of higher education including NUI Galway have been approved €1.63 million in additional funding. The funding was announced this week by Galway West TD and Minister of State for the Irish Language Seán Kyne under the Advanced Irish Language Initiative …” (more)

[Briain Kelly, Galway Daily, 1 October]

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Irish universities tread water while rivals make waves

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The flaws with college rankings are well documented. They are produced by commercial organisations which sell their expertise on how to perform better. They ignore key aspects of college life such as the quality of teaching and learning. And the science behind some of the indicators is suspect, at best. But there is no denying their influence …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 11 September]

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Trinity College calls for university rankings strategy after falling 44 places in worldwide list

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Trinity College Dublin has called for a ‘national strategy for university rankings’ after dropping 44 places in the World University Rankings today. The university is now rated as 164th best in the world in the Times Higher Education list compared with 120th last year …” (more)

[TheJournal.ie, 11 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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State approves €100m for higher education building projects

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

Ireland“The State has approved €100m for five large higher education building projects. The funding is part of ongoing investment in the sector through Project Ireland 2040 and a fund known as the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund (HESIF) …” (more)

[Emma O Kelly, RTÉ News, 30 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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Universities set for High Court battle over alleged ‘poaching’ of staff member

Posted in Legal issues on August 27th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“One of Ireland’s universities is suing another third-level institution over the alleged ‘poaching’ of one of its academic staff. The National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) has brought High Court proceedings against University College Dublin (UCD) …” (more)

[Aodhan O’Faolain and Ray Managh, BreakingNews.ie, 27 August]

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When ‘girl students’ joined the priests-to-be in Maynooth

Posted in Research on August 21st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Ireland, May 1969, and St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Co Kildare, was causing a stir. An Irish Times journalist paid a visit to the seminary, founded in 1795, and now separate to what became Maynooth University …” (more)

[Una Mullally, Irish Times, 20 August]

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Black Cat Appreciation Day

Posted in Life on August 17th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Apparently today, August 17th, is Black Cat Appreciation Day, so I couldn’t resist acknowledging the contributions of Maynooth University Library Cat who I think is largely responsible for increase in the number of students coming to this University …” (more)

[In the Dark, 17 August]

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Visually impaired students hope technology can help make college ‘possible’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on July 12th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“‘We don’t need easy, because nothing is going to really be easy for us, we just need possible’ said Niamh Donnelly, student ambassador of the Maynooth University Access Programme. The third year law student was quoting from her favourite film Soul Surfer …” (more)

[Sarah Mooney, Irish Times, 11 July]

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Review focuses on staff workload in Maynooth University

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on July 5th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Issues relating to staff workload management and the availability of informal learning spaces have been highlighted in a review of Maynooth University by the State’s regulator for higher education qualifications. Maynooth University (MU) and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are the latest education institutions to successfully complete quality checks known as the Cinnte cycle of reviews …” (more)

[Éanna Ó Caollaí, Irish Times, 4 July]

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Maynooth University rated in top 50 of 2019’s Young University Rankings

Posted in Governance and administration on June 26th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Maynooth University has today been recognised as one of the leading new universities in the world. The Times Higher Education (THE) ranking has put the Irish university at number 50 in its latest Young University Rankings, climbing from number 80 last year …” (more)

[BreakingNews.ie, 26 June]

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Birds of Play

Posted in Life on June 23rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“As if it weren’t enough to have a celebrity cat, Maynooth University now also has a celebrity bird. Or birds. I’m not absolutely sure that it’s the same Jackdaw that is a frequent visitor to offices on the South Campus, as they are so many around, but here are a few pictures …” (more)

[In the Dark, 23 June]

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Maynooth University plans new student centre on Kildare campus

Posted in Governance and administration on June 10th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Plans have been lodged with Kildare County Council for a new Student Centre at Maynooth University. The proposal envisages two building blocks with a shared external space under a new canopy …” (more)

[Conor McHugh, Leinster Leader, 10 June]

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Suddenly the End of Term

Posted in Life on June 1st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Yesterday I finished the last of my marking duties, and put away the exam scripts and other assessments. I had to rush to get them all done in time for this weekend because I will not be here for most of next week. That’s been quite difficult because of all the other things going on and has led to quite a few late nights! …” (more)

[In the Dark, 1 June]

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