University accountability – here we go again

According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, the Minister for Education and Science Mr Batt O’Keeffe TD, in addressing the Higher Education authority, declared that universities needed to demonstrate ‘greater value and accountability for money’. He went on to muse that the universities’ institutional autonomy had been beneficial at one level but had also raised concerns about value for money.

No sensible university President will want to argue against accountability and transparency; but in the avalanche of bureaucratic reporting requirements that have flowed over us in recent years I doubt very much that we are lacking in accountability. And as for value for money, we educate students in Ireland to a high quality at half the cost of a similar education in the United Kingdom, and a fraction of the cost in the United States. I cannot help wondering why on earth the Minister keeps raising this doubt, without ever spelling out on what basis he feels it. I suspect there isn’t a university sector in the developed world that produces better value for money; comments of this kind merely fuel prejudices about higher education, and this is not helpful at all as we make huge efforts to help this country escape from the recession. Every review of universities and university finances commissioned by anyone, including the government, over recent years has told the same story: that Irish universities achieve much on inadequate resources.

I believe that universities are eager to work with the government to enhance the quality of education and stimulate innovation and discovery which will help fuel indigenous enterprise and foreign investment. I also accept we need to be open, co-operative and transparent, and of course accountable. But people really should stop constantly querying the universities’ credentials in relation to value for money, unless that is there are specific issues that are raised and that need to be addressed.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, politics, university

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6 Comments on “University accountability – here we go again”

  1. Iain Says:

    Hear, hear. It sounds like a softening up operation before the announcement of a new national quality agency or somesuch. Hmm

  2. Jilly Says:

    Yes, do I see a new Universities Act hoving into view? If so, I think that really would be the last straw for me…

  3. ultan Says:

    i think we’ve done this post already….

  4. Quite possibly, Ultan – and so help me, I suspect we’ll do it again, too!

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