Ireland’s ’employment control framework’: a Fine Gael perspective

In July 2009, not long after the ’employment control framework’ was put in place, I interviewed the then Fine Gael education spokesperson, Brian Hayes TD, for this blog. One of the questions I asked him was in relation to the ECF, and his answer is reproduced below. While Brian Hayes is no longer responsible for education, he is now a Minister of State in the Department of Finance and his views may still represent a Fine Gael perspective; at any rate, I hope they do.

I am following up the issue of the ECF with all political parties represented in Dáil Éireann in order to see whether some momentum can be established in the quest to have it removed. I shall report on my progress (if any) in due course.

Here is the extract from the interview with Brian Hayes.

FvP: Can I just turn now to the employment control framework, under which universities and other institutions are in future to be prevented from making recruitment and selection decisions where there are vacancies, except in very rare circumstances, and in any case never without the consent of the government.  What is your general view of this, and do you agree with that it’s a good way to go?

BH: No, it’s utterly daft, and I’m on the record as saying so, and I’ve raised it in the Dail and with the Minister. It cannot make sense that we are asking large administration systems like universities in particular not to recruit additional people in areas where, for instance, there is future employment or commercial potential.  I know many colleges will have international students coming into courses next year, and these will be paying full fees and will increasingly represent a larger part of the student body.  With the proposed Stalinist approach to recruitment universities would not be able to staff the programmes taken by these students.  My simple solution to this: we would ask the universities and institutions to live within their budgets. We give them a budget, and it is up to them to determine how that budget is spent. To introduce some kind of Stalinist system whereby every new appointment must be sanctioned by the HEA and ultimately by the Department of Finance is daft, and as I said I think a solution has to be found around giving financial autonomy to the universities, in particular asking them to determine what are their priorities. If that leads them to reduce staffing in one area and increasing jobs in another, that is up to them ultimately.

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4 Comments on “Ireland’s ’employment control framework’: a Fine Gael perspective”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Anyone notice that the very system you’ve at the moment is that which is being touted for the health system. The block grant for infrastructure and the money following the patient/student for the rest. While ‘living with-in budgets’ is what the hospitals have now. Why is there a feeling of the ol’bait-and-switch about all this. But what the heck is the switch I’ve no clue, only the notion it will cost you.

  2. Ros Says:

    Much to my surprise, my newly-elected local Fine Gael TD pitched up on my doorstep on Saturday night last to follow up on the points I’d raised with him during the election campaign about what Fine Gael proposed to do about the ludicrous ECF. Now, if you knew which part of the country I lived in, you would realize a) what a rare thing it is to have a TD follow up on anything, and b)how unusual it is to find one that is even remotely interested in anything got to do with 3rd level! Dare I hope???

  3. Rodney Breen Says:

    Finding any sort of basis for university funding these days seems like a choice between a rock and a hard place, but if choices have to be made, surely the best people to make them are the ones who work there?

    The last government’s policies, half-way through a Dail term, always seemed to me to have a slightly desperate, short-term quality, and the ECF is typical of that approach – clearly it has no strategic value. I am so far hopeful that the new government, with a full five-year term to work with, and a substantial minority, will produce something more constructive, and flexible. What universities, as much as any institution, need, is freedom to tailor their plans to how they see their future.

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