Universities yet to agree on lower third level fees for emigrants

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Legal issues on March 19th, 2014 by steve

“A Government decision on lower third-level fees for returning emigrants and children of Irish families living outside the EU has not yet been agreed by individual universities …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 19 March]

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Universities criticise cut in fees for emigrants

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Legal issues on March 19th, 2014 by steve

“The representative body for the seven Irish universities has said moves to reduce fees for the children of Irish emigrants living outside the European Union could have a significant financial impact on third-level institutions …” (more)

[Fiach Kelly, Irish Times, 19 March]

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“Colleges to be called ‘universities’” – A legal note

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on March 5th, 2014 by steve

The Independent reports that “colleges and institutes of technology will be allowed to describe themselves as a ‘university’ when trying to attract foreign students”. It is not clear what level of legal advice has been taken over this, though the article does mention that changes to the Universities Act, 1997, s 52, will be required.

This misses the more basic point that, however useful degree providers may find it to mislead their potential customers, such practices have rightly been banned for a number of years. By the Consumer Protection Act, 2007, a “trader” (a term which almost certainly includes a degree provider) “shall not engage in a misleading commercial practice” (s 42(1)). This would include “the provision of false information” on a variety of topics, including “the nature, attributes or rights of the trader, including .. the trader’s identity .. or status …” (s 43 (1) and (3)(f)). This category of prohibited activity also includes “marketing or advertising [which] would be likely to cause the average consumer .. to confuse .. a competitor’s product with the trader’s product…” (s 44(1)). There’s more, but you get the general idea.

The government has the legal power to grant further Irish institutions university status (under Universities Act, 1997, s 9), but it has no intention of doing so, though at some point in the future (carefully left undefined, and almost certainly beyond the lifetime of the current government) a status of “technological university” may be conferred on a handful of institutions that have dutifully jumped over whatever hurdles the government has chosen to put in its way. That being so, it seems a clear breach of consumer protection law to use the title in relation to programmes not run by one of the seven universities.

There is a worrying disconnect between ministerial utterances, and what the minister can legally do. The minister is treating the “university” label as within his personal gift, to be conferred or withheld as each day’s political circumstances dictate. But the reality is not like that. The title has been limited not by some technicality but by very deliberate political decision. It is safeguarded by law, in ways intended to maintain its force and credibility, nationally and internationally. There are arguments – many of them good ones – for allowing the term to be used more widely – but they have been rejected by the current government, who must therefore stick with the legal consequences of their decision. There is no right to mislead consumers, and an entitlement to do so is not in the minister’s gift.

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Colleges to be called ‘universities’ in bid for foreign students

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Legal issues on March 5th, 2014 by steve

“Colleges and institutes of technology will be allowed to describe themselves as a ‘university’ when trying to attract foreign students …” (more)

[Fionnan Sheahan, Independent, 5 March]

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University Libraries – Public Access

Posted in Legal issues on October 3rd, 2013 by steve

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 144 of 18 June 2013, his views on a matter regarding libraries in a publicly-funded university (details supplied); and if he will clarify the legislative position in this regard …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 1 October]

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Guide to University Legislation – new edition

Posted in Legal issues on September 23rd, 2013 by steve

IrelandNew edition of this guide, updated, and now including text of the Higher Education Authority Act 1971. All legislation is amended to date, with commentary and notes on likely future legislation. Download from here.

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University Governance – Statutory Autonomy

Posted in Governance and administration on July 18th, 2013 by steve

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form the statutory limitations on the statutory autonomy of publicly funded universities …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 17 July]

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Third Level Facilities – Public Access to University Libraries

Posted in Governance and administration on July 13th, 2013 by steve

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the statutory limitations on what he describes as the statutory autonomy of publicly-funded universities. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the exclusion of the public from the libraries of publicly-funded universities …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 11 July]

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University strategic planning – but where are the tactics?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 10th, 2013 by steve

“… Most university strategic plans tend to be long on strategy but short on tactics: they are usually good on long-term ambition, but weak on short- and medium- term steps to achieve that ambition …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 10 July]

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University Libraries – Public Access

Posted in Legal issues on June 28th, 2013 by steve

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No 144 of 18 June, 2013 if he will acknowledge the conceivability of a publicly-funded university determining arrangements and regulations concerning public access to its library …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 27 June]

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UCD Library – Public Access

Posted in Legal issues on June 19th, 2013 by steve

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons for his stated opinion that the exclusion as a rule of the public from the library of University College Dublin is not at variance with its statutory object to promote learning in society generally …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 18 June]

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University Status Review

Posted in Legal issues on May 22nd, 2013 by steve

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way a complaint be made to him contending that the functions of a university are being performed in a manner which prima facie constitutes a breach of the laws, statutes or ordinances applicable to the university, to quote section 20(1) of the Universities Act 1997 …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 21 May]

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Guide to the Universities Act 1997, updated

Posted in Legal issues on May 20th, 2013 by steve

I have updated my guide to the Universities Act, including commentary and the text of the Act as amended to date. Download from here. All comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome!

The Blogmeister

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Third Level Staff Remuneration – Trinity Tutorial Allowance

Posted in Legal issues on March 8th, 2013 by steve

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a cost analysis has been carried out on the decision to amend the trinity tutorial allowance preventing payment to new applicants for providing the service, under direction of his Department, in view of the fact that such a move is feared to lead to the abolition of the service which is instrumental in the provision of student welfare; if not, if such an analysis will be completed to highlight the savings and or costs of amending this scheme while also keeping in mind student welfare and provision for such …” (more)

[Dáil Éireann Written Answers, 6 March]

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SU Presidents publicly oppose Universities Act reform

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on February 5th, 2013 by steve

“The Presidents of five of Ireland’s universities’ students’ unions have released a statement opposing the amendments proposed to the Universities Act from 1997.The amendments in question, proposed by Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, would see the government take control of staff levels and pay …” (more)

[Aoife Valentine, University Observer, 5 February]

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Students lash out at plans to change law on universities

Posted in Legal issues on January 30th, 2013 by steve

“The students’ unions at five of the country’s seven universities have criticised plans to reform the laws surrounding Ireland’s universities, which would give the government the power to centrally control pay rates for staff …” (more)

[TheJournal.ie, 30 January]

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Managerialism in Irish Universities, revisited

Posted in Governance and administration on November 19th, 2012 by steve

I put this 20-minute presentation together for the IALT conference last weekend. It briefly reviews the literature on managerialism in Irish universities, and then summarises developments over the past year. It ends with the proposed Universities (Amendment) Bill.  It’s available as a slideshow here, and for those who want further or more detailed reading there’s a handout here.

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SU Presidents to oppose amendment to Universities Act

Posted in Legal issues on November 13th, 2012 by steve

“UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin has come together with the SU Presidents of the other Irish universities to oppose the ‘Arrangement of Heads’ of the Universities (Amendment) Bill 2012 …” (more)

[Aoife Valentine, University Observer, 13 November]

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Universities fight Quinn’s plan to take control of pay

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on October 30th, 2012 by steve

“Universities are fighting plans to change the law to give the Government absolute control over pay, conditions and staff numbers. University leaders have met Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to express reservations about proposed new legislation …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 30 October]

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A practical and proportionate remedy?

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on October 10th, 2012 by steve

“Last week, the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, announced his intention to ‘introduce new legislation which will oblige universities to comply with government pay policy’ …” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 10 October]

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