Ireland: so what *has* happened to the ’employment control framework’?

After the anger generated in the Irish university community over the second phase of the government’s ’employment control framework’ (under which staff recruitment and promotions in higher education are heavily restricted by the state), it might be asked what has happened to the whole thing. There had been some hints from the new Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD, that there might be a re-think, but since then there has been only silence. We do not know for sure whether there have been talks between the Irish Universities Association and the government, but we must assume that this is so.

But whether the government might be having second thoughts is far from clear. Yesterday the Minister, addressing the annual conference of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, ‘firmly ruled out lifting the public service moratorium on filling promotional posts in schools, such as those of assistant principals and year heads.’ This is a reference to the related restrictions that apply to the public service more generally; but the Minister’s unwillingness to allow any flexibility in this scheme does not suggest an easy solution for higher education will be possible.

And that, I believe, would be a major mistake, and would undermine the capacity of universities to contribute to new economic growth. It is important to keep up the pressure in this matter.

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5 Comments on “Ireland: so what *has* happened to the ’employment control framework’?”

  1. Liam Delaney Says:

    Thanks for keeping on this Ferdinand. It still remains an ugly blot on higher education in Ireland. It is palpable that nods and winks are transmitting through the system but while a document remains in force that basically kills any independence in hiring then we cannot claim to have a functioning university system in Ireland. I do not have a strong opinion on how the pension liability issue should be handled or whether academic pay should be reduced further. These are just working conditions issues. But the current system is just laughable. It is impossible to explain to people in the UK or US. They simply do not fathom how it can be that the entire university system can be captured in this way. Something has to give on this, whether it means TCD or UCD making a break from the system or worse a collapse of the system. But to turn the entire academic community of a country into civil servants with new hiring only mandated by a central committee is mindless.

  2. […] “After the anger generated in the Irish university community over the second phase of the government’s ‘employment control framework’ (under which staff recruitment and promotions in higher education are heavily restricted by the state), it might be asked what has happened to the whole thing …” (more) […]

  3. Ros Says:

    I just want to echo Liam’s comments Ferdinand, and thank you for continuing to raise this issue. It’s when you try to explain the ECF to colleagues and other academics from outside Ireland that you realize how laughable it sounds! Unfortunately, I think it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future – unlike many of us who will be forced to look for positions in other countries!

  4. Colm Harmon Says:

    I echo too the comments from Liam/Ros. My sense is your former colleagues have been brought inside the tent – absolutely the worst outcome of all as they will have rings run around them and then be stakeholders to the agreement. Moreover the ‘capture’ phrase used by Liam is very appropriate. It stems from a literature in economics where the regulator and the regulated become spliced together. The silence you refer to, Ferdinand, is most likely due to some deal being done that will see some special projects (PRTLI etc) being allowed through but all else being held up.

    Just this week I heard of two departures of talent – one administrative, one senior academic – and both cited the unworkable nature of the system as a key element of their choice. That is now a reality.

    It is actually now increasingly my sense that things are worse, not better, since the change of Government. Special advisors are actually less specialist than the past lot across all Departments, the Civil Service are without doubt invoking the ‘troika’ in a defense manner, and the fact that the word evidence (as requested by the IMF – and defined by economics) is not understood remotely inside Govt circles is very worrying. Getting numbers down in Unis is not evidence of effective policy despite what the govt might think. And the only innovation from the Minister remains reinstating the NUI.

    As an aside it is interesting to note that said special advisors are hired on public sector contracts – a bit like contract researchers!!

  5. Ernie Ball Says:

    Why should the IUA, which is a private lobbying organisation (albeit one upon which millions in taxpayer euros have been lavished) have any involvement whatsoever in these matters? Perhaps the Licensed Vintners’ Association should also participate in the talks.

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