Summer schools

You know it’s summer in Ireland when June’s relatively good weather has turned into wind and rain and when you start to read reports about the MacGill Summer School. Reading reports is as far as this has gone for me, as I have never been at it – so maybe that should be my ambition for next year. Heavens, I don’t even know whether you can just turn up or need to be invited.

Anyway, this year’s programme has been on the theme of ‘Reforming the Republic’, which is a kind of fashionable topic right now, as it tens to allow anyone and everyone to indulge in their whinge of choice. However, the reports of the event have been interesting, and individual speakers have pursued ideas and thoughts that could well be helpful as we try to work our way back to a better state of the nation.

On Thursday there was a session on education reform, and this was used by Hugh Brady, President of UCD, to set out the case for tuition fees (and point to the collateral damage caused by ‘free fees’ to university car parking). In addition, he warned that it may no longer be feasible for universities to increase student intake in the light of the funding problems they face. The risks we run by not facing up to the funding of Irish higher education and the return of fees was also addressed a day later, on Friday, by former EU Commissioner Peter Sutherland.

The still developing Irish tradition of summer schools is quite unique, as far as I am aware – and their capacity to stimulate informed national debate is hugely valuable. It is a practice we should nurture.

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9 Comments on “Summer schools”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    I agree with what Hugh Brady says about university fees. However, I am not sure that bringing in UCD’s parking problem – which is very real- is helpful in this context. Scarce parking slots, like any scarce resource, are best rationed by charging for them: it’s the original no-brainer.
    Its not that hard to do, people pay elsewhere in the city and you can implement tariffs that distinguish between students and staff, if you wish, or that are higher during term. Where I currently am in the US, I can pay to use staff parking lots by the semester. Happily, the weather is so glorious here I walk in :).
    It needs to be recalled that just as there is no free lunch, there is no free parking. In UCD you pay with time instead of money: I get in early to Belfield to be sure of a place. Come in later and you drive around campus for 40 minutes looking for a spot. UCD could do with applying some innovative thinking to this problem.

    • Vincent Says:

      Odd as it is Kevin re. the parking thing I don’t think he can do as you suggest. The NUI has this thing about all being equal, members of College and all that. So if he charged for one he would have to charge all. And while he might get away with charging the ancillary staff, the combo of the academic and student members would fillet him.

    • Well, DCU has been charging for at least some of the on-campus parking for some time. While at first the discussions around this had all the feel of a discourse on human rights, in the end the position was accepted by the campus community.

  2. Vincent Says:

    Ferdinand, when you could be out on a river or lake with a fishing rod. Why on earth would one want to listen to a bunch of people presenting résumés in an attempt to purge error but in the most part compounding it.
    Anyway, if you were up that way for a few days, Lough Derg would be a vastly more interesting and beneficial experience.

    • Vincent, I think that one of the advantages of going to such events – whether conferences, summer schools or whatever – is that they are often located near something interesting or beautiful, so if and when the event gets boring there’s something else to do…

  3. Al Says:

    There is an aristocratic aspect to this though;

    Who but those that get the summer off? : politicans; teachers; lecturers; professors etc;

    And there are a few running each year: Glenties; Burren; Kerry.

    Maybe I will get down to one of them this summer.

    • Vincent Says:

      Ah, come now Al. In the Summer you have the GAA. And in the Winter you have the sprogs of the Pro- Vice- Cancellarius. How can the Summer be Aristo’.

      • Al Says:

        Didnt see it that way…
        Obviously I have established my class here;;;
        Or lack of it;;;

        • Vincent Says:

          Well of course there is the concept of football that Ferdinand likes. That seems to follow rather closely the hunting and three-day-eventing year. But I could be mistaken. However I did hear on the wind that many a English club are at this minute two thirds of a way up a good Alp.

          And I’m certain you have as much or as many ‘Class’ marks as I’ve myself.

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