Dealing with the Employment Control Framework ‘debacle’
The degree of misjudgment evident in the ’employment control framework’ as issued to the Irish universities has now also been revealed in a leaked internal memorandum in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, published today in the Irish Times. The memo was written by Martin Shanagher, Assistant Secretary in the Department. It refers to the ‘debacle with the ECF’ and points out the various flaws in the framework and the errors made in the process of drafting and communicating it. The writer remarks that ‘much needs to be learned about how to conduct our affairs’.
Martin Shanagher heads the Science, Technology and Intellectual Property Division in the Department and has been closely involved with the government’s science research agenda. The views he expresses in the leaked memo focus not unnaturally on the damage the ECF may inflict on that agenda, by demotivating the contributors to Ireland’s research efforts, making it difficult for them to staff the projects and adding unnecessary costs. He is also concerned that his Department was not properly consulted or informed about the new ECF, despite the obvious impact on the Department’s programmes.
From all this it is clear that the ECF is not only a totally unnecessary and also very damaging assault on higher education, it is also the product of uncoordinated planning and some alarming ignorance of the implications of what was being announced.
It may however be worth saying that what is wrong with the ECF is not that there are some flaws with the framework. The whole idea is fundamentally misguided and critically undermines the national quest to emerge from the recession. This mad scheme cannot be tweaked or corrected; it must be reversed entirely.