Revealed: college bosses rack up large bills for travel, fine dining, taxis and even coffee machines

Posted in Governance and administration on April 25th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“Huge sums of money at colleges are being spent on fine dining and taxis, with college credit cards used to pay for coffee machines and even trips to the Cannes Film Festival. A Sunday Independent analysis of spending by presidents at every Irish university and institute of technology reveals colleges are paying hundreds of thousands of euro …” (more)

[Wayne O’Connor, Independent, 25 April]

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Universities have failed to appoint a female president for 426 years, says Minister

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

Ireland“The fact that there has never been a female university president in 426 years is a sign of how far the sector needs to go achieve gender equality, a Government Minister has said. Mary Mitchell O’Connor, the Minister of State with responsibility for higher education, said latest figures showed that while women made up half of the staff at third level, only a quarter of university professors were female …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 10 October]

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Technological Universities: Appointment of Presidents

Posted in Governance and administration on July 13th, 2018 by steve

Jan O’Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour): To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to ensure that there will be a transparent initiative to attract international and national candidates of calibre and distinction for the post of president of the new university in view of the expected announcement on the establishment of Ireland’s first technological university; and if he will make a statement on the matter …” (more)

[Dáil written answers, 12 July]

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Academic … surely?

Posted in Governance and administration on September 17th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Following the discussion, actually it’s more like an argument, about high levels of pay for chancellors and vice-chancellors of UK universities it’s kind of breathtaking the excuses being put out about why some are ‘worth it’ …” (more)

[The Cedar Lounge Revolution, 17 September]

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NUIG’s Failure to Elect a Female President Turns Attention to Next Opportunity

Posted in Governance and administration on September 11th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Despite national speculation and a committee dedicated to the job, NUI Galway has failed to elect a female president. It now looks likely that Trinity could belatedly achieve the honour of having the first female university head if and when Provost Patrick Prendergast decides to bow out in 2022 (there are some indications to suggest Prendergast may seek a second term) …” (more)

[University Times, 10 September]

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Third-level leaders and the gender lens

Posted in Governance and administration on August 23rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – In your CAO supplement (August 21st) you talk to six university presidents – six male university presidents. In hope, I checked the three remaining universities not featured (NUIG, UCC and UCD), only to find three more male presidents …” (more)

[Helen Ryan, Irish Times, 23 August]

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Government task force on gender bias welcomed, but at NUI Galway and other Irish Universities, it helps to look at where the power is

Posted in Governance and administration on August 4th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“In July, the Higher Education Authority issued this year’s figures for gender percentages in Irish Universities and other higher-education institutions. Because this Web page focused on the four female lecturers’ mediation coming to an end at NUI Galway, we made no comment on the HEA report – and we didn’t produce an updated version of our table ranking the Irish Universities. But we found we didn’t need to …” (more)

[Micheline’s Three Conditions, 4 August]

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University of Limerick’s presidential home worth €1.5m remains vacant

Posted in Governance and administration on August 4th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The costs of maintaining two presidential houses owned by the University of Limerick have exceeded €100,000, with one multi-million euro residence left vacant for nearly a decade. The university sparked controversy in 2010 when a second house costing €2.2m and funded by philanthropist Chuck Feeney of Atlantic Philanthropies was built for its president on campus – at a time when it was €3m in debt …” (more)

[Anne Sheridan, Limerick Leader, 3 August]

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There has never been a female Irish university president … why?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 26th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Since the establishment of the first Irish university over 400 years ago, a woman has never occupied the most senior role possible – president. And yet, the number of women and men attending universities in Ireland as students is almost equal …” (more)

[Jade Hayden,, 25 July]

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NUIG recruiters told to ‘reach out to women’ for president

Posted in Governance and administration on July 25th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Recruiters headhunting the new president of NUI Galway were specifically asked to ‘reach out’ to women academics in Ireland and abroad. Members of the Governing Body of NUIG, ‘expressed a worry’ that the competition to replace Dr James Browne, the incumbent ‘might not attract significant female interest’ …” (more)

[Dara Bradley, Connacht Tribune, 24 July]

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Why it’s time for a woman to become president of an Irish university

Posted in Governance and administration on February 23rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The review carried out last year by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) confirmed what many commentators had observed for years: women are ‘vastly under-represented in top positions within the higher education sector’. While 52% of entry-level academic positions are filled by women, they represent only 19% of professorships …” (more)

[Linda Connolly, Irish Times, 22 February]

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Irish Language Committee asks NUIG to reconsider decision on future presidents not being required to be fluent in Irish

Posted in Governance and administration on December 21st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“At its meeting on 13 December 2016, the Standing Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands agreed to request the Governing Authority of the National University of Ireland, Galway to reconsider its decision that future Presidents of the University will not be required to be fluent in Irish …” (more)

[Houses of the Oireachtas, 21 December]

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NUIG drops requirement for president to be fluent in Irish

Posted in Governance and administration on December 5th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“NUI Galway has dropped its long-standing requirement that the president of the university must be fluent in Irish. At a recent meeting of the college’s governing authority, Údarás na hOllscoile, a majority of members voted to change the recruitment criteria on the basis that it was limiting the pool of potential candidates …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 4 December]

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University Governance – Presidential Residences

Posted in Governance and administration on June 23rd, 2016 by steve

IrelandAlan Kelly (Tipperary, Labour): To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of universities that currently provide a residence for their president; if he is aware of any universities in the process of purchasing such properties; if such expenditure is an appropriate use of public funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter …” (more)

[Dáil written answers, 21 June]

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Why are university bosses paid so much?

Posted in Governance and administration on December 14th, 2015 by steve

InternationalTimes Higher Education (THE) has an article by Ellie Bothwell about the earnings of university heads in the USA and the UK. The US data is from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The sums paid are in some cases extraordinary …” (more)

[University Ranking Watch, 14 December]

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Life is a struggle on €232,000, says university president #WTF?

Posted in Governance and administration on December 16th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“Dr Michael Murphy, president of UCC, tells us that the heads of Irish universities ‘are as challenged at paying their bills as anyone else’ according to a report by Niamh Horan in the Irish Independent …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 16 December]

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The Higher Education and Research Bill 2014 – 4. Individual institutions: Governance

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 6th, 2014 by steve

The governance provisions of the bill are pretty dense, and their purpose is not altogether clear, as in many respects they simply restate the existing position – here as elsewhere, the bill rides two horses, seeking to restate the law and to reform it, and ending up not quite achieving either. However, there are a number of distinct proposals for change here:

Governing authority – chair. The bill introduces, for all higher education institutions, the same rule as is currently in force for universities, namely that the governing authority decides for itself whether its chair will be the chief officer or an independent chair (cl 16). I would imagine (though it is not awfully clear) that this choice is meant to be made afresh with each new governing authority – this needs to be clarified.

Governing authority – tenure. Tenure of all governing authority members is now stated to be 48 months, “one-time continuously renewable” (cl 15(4)). This is a considerable reduction from the current position, and it might be questioned whether this is long enough. (Senator Averil Power has already questioned whether this is long enough for the chair.) Is a one-size-fits-all rule really needed? A general reduction in terms is certainly possible without specifying in legislation the precise number of months that are to be served.

Chief officer – tenure. “The chief officer shall have tenure of 48 months, renewable once” (cl 23(3)). Again, a considerable reduction, and without much explanation. It is not enough to parrot that industry CEOs can usually expect such short terms – higher education institutions are a good deal slower to move than commercial firms, and correspondingly greater harm can be done by heads desperate to make their mark over a short period. More explanation needed!

Loss of institutional control. By cl 36(8), an institution that exceeds its budget for more than 24 months “will be placed under the direct financial control of the Higher Education and Research Grants Committee”. Given that most costs of Irish higher education institutions are staffing costs, there is a pretty clear threat here, especially given what is said later on redundancy.

Each of these proposed changes has its merits, but the overwhelming conclusion is that the true scale of the problem is not being taken seriously. Each institution is unique, and the balance of interests within it needs detailed attention – which is why the Universities Act 1997 s 16 (“Composition of governing authority”) ended up making separate provision for each of the institutions it covered. Broad aims such as reducing term limits need not be carried out in such a prescriptive way: local flexibility must be part of the mix.

next ⇒

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No sex for the President

Posted in Life on January 24th, 2014 by steve

“With apologies for the salacious title of this post. When you and I were students, and when we were staying in some student residence or other, some of us if we’re old enough may have been subject …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 January]

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The view from the top

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

“One of the curiosities of the system of higher education in these islands is that we know relatively little about the views of its leaders …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 6 August]

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UCD could have looked to homegrown leader

Posted in Governance and administration on August 5th, 2013 by steve

“… I am very surprised that it was necessary to appoint a stranger to the role of 10th president of the nation’s largest university, notwithstanding how distinguished, eminent and accomplished the appointee may be …” (more)

[Myles Duffy, Irish Examiner, 5 August]

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