Posted tagged ‘John Hegarty’

TCD: the next generation

April 3, 2011

So is the election in Trinity College Dublin of the next Provost an advertisement for, or a warning against, such a process? Probably a bit of both. The campaign was conducted by the candidates with a degree of energy, though as I suggested a day or so ago, the election of Paddy Prendergast tells us that the new social and online media are not influential in TCD. Also, winner and losers conducted themselves with some dignity at the outcome, and it is unlikely that any fences will need to be mended.

On the other hand, the process did not attract (as Trinity should have done) candidates who are really big players in the international academic world. A couple of years ago, for example, St Andrews University in Scotland (which is perhaps broadly comparable to TCD) appointed a key researcher and academic leader from Harvard University to be its new Principal (interestingly, an Irishwoman by birth). No field of this kind emerged for Trinity College. And of the two external candidates who participated, one felt he had to withdraw because success was impossible, and the other recorded the fewest votes on the day.

I am sure that Paddy Prendergast will be a successful Provost, but his election breaks no molds. TCD declined to elect its first woman Provost (though Jane Ohlmeyer performed very well, coming second in the poll).

Standing outside the College it is probably easy to under-estimate the feeling of satisfaction that surely many TCD staff now feel, and it is not my intention to suggest that Trinity did badly. Indeed, I wish Paddy Prendergast both success and happiness in the role, and I hope the College will go from strength to strength. Its success is important for the whole Irish higher education sector.

I also wish John Hegarty every happiness as he moves into the final phase of his term of office as Provost.

Irish universities: preparing for the worst

November 22, 2010

The Trinity College Dublin students newspaper The University Times has published a letter from the TCD Provost, Dr John Hegarty, to College staff alerting them to the very tricky funding environment that TCD – in common of course with the other Irish universities – now faces. The Provost refers to what he regards as the ‘best case budget for the sector’, and in TCD’s case this would result in a 10 per cent cut in the government’s annual grant allocation; the worst case scenario is a 20 per cent cut. This cut of course comes on top of very significant funding reductions over the past two years or so. The Provost’s expressed hope is that the 10 per cent cut will be applied, rather than the more dramatic reductions. But he also acknowledges that ‘the impact of the financial situation on the quality of teaching and the overall student experience is a cause of grave concern.’

Of course we don’t yet know what we are going to face in the context of the government’s four-year plan to be published shortly. We believe that the student registration charge will rise by a substantial amount, quite possibly above the level of the relevant non-tuition costs, and quite possibly ‘balanced’ by a reduction in the recurrent grant and/or fees paid by the government under the ‘free fees’ scheme. We believe that there will be a further planned reduction in higher education faculty and staff under the ’employment control framework’. On the other hand we expect that research funding will not be significantly affected.

The universities will need to undertake urgent discussions to see what kind of education model can be sustained under these conditions. It does not seem likely that the existing teaching and learning methods can still be continued successfully to a satisfactory quality standard, but nobody really knows what might replace them. As the financial parameters are unlikely to improve for several years, it is now vital to look at the effect of the changing financial conditions on learning and pedagogy, and to see how an adapted model can allow Irish universities to offer degree programmes to acceptable international standards.

Reinventing the university: conference in DCU

June 4, 2010

As I have mentioned previously, DCU will be hosting a major conference on the future of higher education. This will take place on June 15 and 16, under the title of ‘Reinventing the University: Creating a New Vision’.

Speakers will include the T├ínaiste, Ms Mary Coughlan TD; the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority, Mr Tom Boland; the chair of the higher education strategic review working group, Mr Colin Hunt; Dr Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University; Dr Bill Harris, former Director General of Science Foundation Ireland; Professor Colm Harmon, Director of the UCD Geary Institute; Dr John Hegarty, Provost of Trinity College Dublin; and Professor Sir Alan Wilson of the Centre for Adanved Spatial Analysis of University College London. And there’s me, and my successor in DCU. There will also be a roundtable discussion involving a number of participants, including a student representative and Sean Flynn of the Irish Times, which is co-sponsoring the event.

More details are available here, and I hope many readers of this blog will want to be present. All are invited.